Nepali couple with Winter Park ties OK after quake | SkyHiNews.com

Nepali couple with Winter Park ties OK after quake

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

A Nepali couple that has frequented Winter Park over the years is OK following a devastating earthquake in their home country.

Lhakpa and Tashi Sherpa have made the long journey to Grand County every summer for years to set up their jewelry stand in front of the Mountain Rose Café in Winter Park.

"The town has adopted them, and they've adopted Winter Park," said Jack Gerstein, a Winter Park-based realtor and friend of the couple. "They're just such wonderful people, and having the Sherpa and Buddhist culture so present here for us, it's unique. It's great."

Lhakpa and Tashi, as well as their son Karma, were not injured in the quake, Gerstein said.

Gerstein said he spoke with Tashi on Tuesday, April 28.

In Nepal, the two operate a lodge in the Khumbu region, which includes Mount Everest.

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They sell jewelry out of their lodge, and both share in the storied history of nearby Everest.

Lhakpa was a Sherpa on Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner's two expeditions up the north face of Mount Everest, and has summited twice, Gerstein said.

Messner is known for being among the first to summit the mountain without supplemental oxygen.

Tashi's grandfather was the head sirdar or Sherpa leader during the Sir Edmund Hillary expedition, Gerstein said. He was involved in appointing Sherpa Tenzing Norgay to the expedition

"Her grandfather is the guy that said Tenzing, why don't you go up there with Hillary," he said. "Tenzing was positioning to be that guy, but it was her grandfather's blessing that let Tenzing go up there with Hillary."

Hillary and Tenzing are credited with the first ascent of the world's highest peak.

Lhakpa first came to Grand County in 1999, working seasonally for a Winter Park restaurateur before bringing his wife to Winter Park, Gerstein said,

The two have also endured some recent hardships, losing their son Dorje three years ago.

At that time, a group of friends, including many from Grand County, banded together to raise money for them.

Currently, the same group is working to raise money for the family.

Though there was only "minor damage" to the lodge, Gerstein said that nearby villages were decimated.

To support Lhakpa and Tashi, Gerstein asked that checks be dropped off at his office at Coldwell Banker in Winter Park or sent to P.O. Box 900 in Winter Park.

Gerstein will put the proceeds into an account to be given to Tashi and Lhakpa when they arrive in Winter Park in May.

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