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19 May 2023 No Comment

On May 17, 1995, CONSTANTIN LĂCĂTUȘU wrote Romania’s name in gold letters into the history book of World Alpinism. At 1:45 P.M. local time, CONSTANTIN LĂCĂTUȘU from Piatra Neamţ became the first Romanian to reach the highest peak on the planet, EVEREST (8,848m).

His unique performance was due to the fact that his ascent to the top was made without a sherpa and, for most part of the way, without oxygen.

Many other personal and national victories followed, and TICU LĂCĂTUŞU conquered the highest peaks of the world, among which we mention the “7 PEAKS” PROJECT, the highest peaks of the 7 continents:

  • June 1990: Elbrus (5,642 m)
  • February 4, 1995: Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) – Marangu route
  • May 17, 1995: Everest (8,848 m) – first Romanian alpinist to reach Mount Everest, North Face route – North Ridge – North East Ridge
  • February 16, 1996: Aconcagua (6,962 m) – normal route
  • June 4, 1997: McKinley (Denali) (6,194 m) – first ascent of a Romanian team, West Buttress route
  • April 25, 2000: Puncak Jaya (Carstensz Pyramid) (4,884 m) – first Romanian alpinist to reach Puncak Jaya, Messner route (East Ridge)
  • December 10, 2001: Vinson Massif (4,897 m) – normal route

For his extraordinary achievements, CONSTANTIN LĂCĂTUȘU was named “Athlete of the year 1999”, next to Gabriela Szabo.

Today, 28 years after conquering Mount EVEREST, TICU LĂCĂTUŞU recalls:

MAY 17, 1995

It seems like it was yesterday… Hard to believe it was 28 years ago! On a day of MAY 17, the Romanian flag arrived for the first time on the highest peak of the Earth, Mount EVEREST, 8,850m.

That day, 5 other alpinists climbed the northern route, from Tibet, with no sherpas. Among the conquerors was Kazakh Anatoli Bukreev, one of the greatest high-altitude climbers in the entire history of mountaineering (he later disappeared in an avalanche on Annapurna). I walked shoulder to shoulder with him until after the First Step, Mushroom Rocks (8550m). There, I took a longer break, together with the only Sherpa who had left from the last camp. An American climber was exhausted and needed help. Chuldim Temba was in my expedition but went down with Toni Tonsing, back to the advanced base camp. The American had survived a night of horror at over 8.500m altitude. He had survived as if by miracle. It wasn’t from our expedition, but back then there was still fair play, even at that heady altitude. A year ago, I had given up the summit to assist the descent of a New Zealand climber in critical condition, and the day before, I had helped another Canadian climber to avoid a fatal fall.

Near the final pyramid, I met Anatoli. He noticed that I didn’t have an oxygen mask and said: “No oxygen?” Very difficult….”. My plan was to climb all the way up without supplemental oxygen. However, I stayed at over 8,250m for 3 consecutive days and 3 nights, 2 of which were right before reaching the summit, due to bad weather. In the so-called “death zone” the human body is at its limit. Every day and even every hour spent there without artificial oxygen inevitably brings you closer to the edge. Before leaving for the summit from the last camp (8,250m) there was a severe frost. A French colleague gave up after 20m. I decided to take some oxygen with me, a third of the usual amount needed for the round trip. It only provided me with oxygen supply for only 350m to the Second Step (8,600m), about 5-6 hours left from the peak. I continued climbing without oxygen, suddenly returning to normal conditions, which was a real shock for the body. 251 babies were born per minute in 1995. I was taking 2-3 steps followed by 5-10 seconds pause. The last slope of the final pyramid was covered by a layer of fresh, deep and unstable snow. No fixed string. On the summit, however, everything was frozen, and the snow was well blown by the wind. The seemingly interminable climb was over. I was looking towards the opposite side, the Nepalese side, as if I were on a plane. I took several self-portrait photos, with the ice axe, using the famous Chinese tripod, looking towards the 4 cardinal points, until the camera batteries went off. Some clumsy “friends” from home only remembered the last part of the photo session, the one with the frozen camera, from my stories; they prefer to live with the self-delusion that the pictures from the top don’t exist. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for Romanian mountaineering, they exist…; even in the form of slides and not processed digital images, for the simple reason that in 1995 we still had no access to digital cameras. At that time, there was no e-mail, internet or facebook. But what I had back then was enough to climb Mount Everest: a strong will, the spirit of adventure, fair play and a dash of luck.


Everest has always fascinated the human mind and continues to attract, like a huge magnet, climbers from all over the world. It will remain an ultimate target for any climber. If in 40 years, until the pre-monsoon season of 1995, about 350 people had climbed Everest, in the next 20 years (1995-2015) 10 times as many succeeded to reach the top! After 1995, other Romanian alpinists climbed Mount Everest. The first was Gheorghe Dijmărescu, from Gorj County, now residing in Connecticut – USA; he even did it several times, once without artificial oxygen (!!), in 1999.


Everest 1995 was the 2nd Romanian ascent on a peak above 8,000m. 3 years before, I had climbed the first peak, Broad Peak (8,047m, Pakistan), after an extremely tense expedition. All my teammates had given up and gone home; I was left alone in the base camp with a sack of food and a tent which I then carried back to the upper camps. I eventually managed the only conquer of Broad Peak that year, along with 2 Americans and 3 Spaniards. No sherpas and no oxygen tanks.

I climbed many other peaks from all continents, each with its own story, more or less happy. However, no peak was “the peak of my life”, since all the attempts make up a special puzzle of recollections. The story wouldn’t be complete without any of them. More important than the (unique!) moments spent on a peak is the ascent itself, the path of continuous discovery of the fascinating world of mountains and –why not?– of life, with its inevitable ups and downs.

What am I thinking now, 20 years after my first climb of top of Everest?

First of all, I think about those people without whose support I wouldn’t have gotten there. In ‘94-‘95, it would have been impossible for me to go on 2 highly expensive expeditions to Mount Everest without the total support of Mr. Luigi Bodo, and the RIFIL team from Săvinești. RIFIL is the first joint-venture company (Romanian-Italian) in Eastern Europe, after the war (1973). I owe a lot to these people and I consider myself very lucky that fate brought us together. Thank you, RIFIL! Congratulations and Happy Birthday on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of RIFIL!

Happy anniversary TICU LĂCĂTUŞU! May your accomplishments live on forever!


Video Constantin Lăcătuşu – First Romanian to reach the top of Everest

See the accommodation possibilities from Neamt County

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