George to Tina: "You believe I only threaten you with a law suit..."|
Dec 10, 2004 12: 25 EST
Previously published Dec 9, 2004 08: 51 EST
Two weeks ago, we ran a story about a story. The original story was published by the Connecticut Newspaper Hartford Courant - a detailed report about a guy who climbed Everest 6 times, and beat up his 4 time Everest summiteer and Sherpa wife in Base Camp.
The story told of violent threats, clients fearing for their lives, oxygen stashes getting robbed, Sherpas demanding money in high camps, porn in mess tents, and a 15 years old Everest summiteer Sherpani slapped by her expedition leader on descent in Camp 2. And a whole bunch of climbers looking the other way.
Forbes and Washington Post
Over the years, we've run 3 stories similar to this one. There was the story about Henry Todd and fake oxygen in Himalaya, the story about Dominick Arduin and her polar outfitters refusing to conduct a search, and latest - the story about Nils Antezana's death on Everest. Strangely enough, these stories didn't break in the adventure media - but in the regular news: Forbes, Sunday Times, Washington Post - and the Hartford Courant.
Silence is a crime
We run the stories so that our mates can take warning, to save a few lives. To us - it's our duty. To us, silence is a crime. But in the past week, we began to understand why perhaps, so few dare to touch the subject.
A mail from George
Last week, we received a mail from Gheorghe Dijmarescu, a.k.a “George”. He was angry at the Connecticut paper for running his story, and urged us to remove ours.
He claimed the report was based on the reporter's personal disappointment (he didn't summit), that the Romanian climber’s ribs weren't broken, Lhakpa was never unconscious, and the published photographs were electronically altered.
He accused us for making "a family dispute" public - and btw - he had hit Lhakpa's little sister in self defense. He wanted us to investigate with the other climbers, and to publish the court decision of the Hartford law suit when it came, or, he wrote: "Continue to keep the Courant article on your website and hope for the best."
The other guys
Except, we had already got the important parts of the story confirmed, by one of the climbers George now was referring to.
Anne in the Everest expedition described some of those climbers as the "Hitler youth" for their loyalty to George despite his volatility. We weren't sure that the loyalty had switched.
And sure enough, the next day after our story ran, and after receiving a phone call from George, the climber asked us to change his statement.
Calling the Devil’s cards
So how to find the truth about George? I decided to call George's cards. He had already threatened 3 women, and abused two. I am a woman, one of the editors and founders of ExplorersWeb, and an Everest summiteer. I would answer him, alone, and see how he would handle - me.
I mailed back a few questions:
"From now on, I will do all I can to hunt this bitch down, like a hiena..."...
- Are these not your words?
Did you, or did you not hit Doni? Did you, or did you not hit Lakpa? Did you, or did you not jump Coco Galescu? Best, Tina
Mel Gibson attacked by a deadly weapon?
In his reply, I started to hint the true colors of Gheorghe Dijmarescu. Yes, he had hit the women but in self defense - he compared himself to Mel Gibson attacked by a deadly weapon. "The two women stand by me today and will stand tomorrow, they acknowledge their fault and long time ago apologized," he wrote. And yes, the threats were his but "The E-mail was and is a package of personal thoughts..." And the Romanian?
"Coco Galescu stated he returned from 7500m because of a kidney attack and not a word of broken ribs, Galsecu knew, if he made such statements he would be sued..."
So wait a minute, the girls were hit by this 6'3 ft guy, and has apologized? "Hunt this bitch down, like a hiena" ...personal thoughts of an Everest expedition leader? And Galsecu knew he would be sued...?
”I know who you are...”
And then George couldn't stop himself anymore: "...you contemplate taking your lap top, close that rental apartment door and parasite yourself on another country and pop your soap opera paparazzi business with another name, but I know who you are..."
Well, I do have a laptop, and yes I do live in a rental apartment between expeditions. George was now actually threatening me, woman number 4. His excuse this time? "You have violated my civil rights."
Constitutional freedom of the press
So, I mailed back:
The story was reported as it was, no conclusions were drawn and, if you continue to threaten a lawsuit based upon Explorersweb exercising its Constitutional freedom of the press, we will make a complaint against you and publish your threatening e-mails, as well as the e-mail where you admit striking the women.
In addition, ExplorersWeb will continue to watch this story, including the reports of theft and other wrong doings on Everest. All further personal threats directed towards me and other journalists at ExplorersWeb will be immediately reported to the police.
”You believe I only threatening you with a law suit..”
And the reply? Here goes, caps lock and all:
"...you understood that I was accused several times of criminal activity and you made little or no effort to do an investigative work toward the truth...You believe I only threatening you with a law suit. As I asked before and ask AGAIN:
PLEASE PROVIDE ME WITH YOUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS OF MOUNTEVEREST.NET/EXPLORESWEB.COM AND ITS OWNERS AND YOU WILL SEE FOR YOURSELF, SOONER, I AM NOT BLUFFING
YOU HAVE 30 (THIRTY) DAYS TO RETRACT YOUR ARTICLE ON MOUNTEVEREST.NET. THAT TIME STARTS TODAY DEC 6TH 2004.
YOUR RETRACTION SHALL BE ON THE SAME PAGE AS EQUALLY AS NOTORIOUS AS THE FRONT PAGE OF MOUNTEVEREST.NET"
George’s hand – all black cards
These were George's true cards. I can't know about the rest of the story, the stolen oxygen (manslaughter according to Russel Brice and I agree), the other violence and the thefts, but I can testify to this: George does threaten people - and women.
"I'm going to sue you or I am going to whack you!" he told someone on Everest. Sounds familiar to me. George asked me to prove that he is guilty. That was never my intention nor my obligation. But, I guess I just did. Or rather, George proved himself - to me.
"I'm going to burn their tents down," said George of his clients. "You don't know what happens at night and I have this ice ax," Koga quoted George as saying.
That's a hell lot of threats to a hell lot of people.
The silent witnesses
And as for George's witnesses? Well they all were CC on the mails from George to me...most using hotmail of course.
How they reacted to George's physical threats towards me? You guessed it - not a word from one of them.
Dangerous mountaineering teammate
"[George] is a menace ... a real sadist with delusions of grandeur, intemperate ambition, poor judgment and endless egotism," Rumanian climber Koga wrote to Hartford Currant in an e-mail. "He is the very embodiment of everything that is unacceptable and dangerous in a mountaineering teammate. He uses intrigue, rumor-spreading, and manipulation to divide a group and take power over them. I was honestly afraid that if something went wrong he could turn homicidal."
Today, ExplorersWeb is joining the line of police complaints towards Gheorghe Dijmarescu.
Lhakpa Sherpa is a 4 time Everest summiteer. Doni is Lhakpa's little sister and the youngest person ever to have summited Everest.
Tina Sjogren was expedition leader of the Everest expedition in 1999 which included Babu Shirri Sherpa who spent 20 hours on the summit and thus became a Nepali Everest hero. The expedition fixed its own ropes on the mountain. Tina was also the first woman to ski unsupported to the North Pole, and is currently the only woman in the world to have the Three Poles (Everest/SP/NP).
Image top (by Michael Koudas): Anne Parmenter, left, and Carolyn Moreau carried the unconscious Lhakpa to the cook tent.
Image bottom: Gheorghe Dijmarescu in camp 2. Copyright 2004, Hartford Courant
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