Climber Gabriel Baicus, the first Romanian who succeeded two months ago to scale two of the planet's highest peaks - Mt. Everest (8,848 m) and Mt. Lhotse (8,516 m) - in just a little more than 24 hours, this weekend shared his experience at Cea1 Borsec Festival, speaking of the hardships and beautiful moments of the the expedition, of his dreams and projects.
Gabriel Baicus is 36, a modest man, always with a smile on his face, appearing a little awkward when he is given attention, but wholeheartedly enjoying his success in a dream whose seeds he planted a decade ago.
In May 2022 he reached the world's tallest mountain, the Everest, and then conquered Mt. Lhotse, all in just over 24 hours. Even if the project had a 24-hour timeframe, this extraordinary achievement is in no way diminished, Agerpres.ro informs.
About the expedition, the Romanian climber says that it was beautiful but difficult, and amusedly explains that it took him longer to get from Brasov to Iasi, then to Borsec and back to Brasov, than to reach the Everest and Lhotse.
"There were some key moments, I can call them that. When I set off for the Everest I was very tired because I hadn't rested in camp three, I got to camp four and surprisingly, there were more of us in the tent than expected. And we crouched down, we couldn't rest properly, there was a terrible wind blowing, the noise wouldn't let us rest, but then you are so tired that you just ignore it. And there's something else. The departure for the peak is at night and it's even harder, because there's also the fight with the darkness, with the fact that you see nothing around but some headlamps and stars, possibly a few mountain contours, if you're lucky enough to have a full moon. This was a very difficult time, because I knew I was going on a night climb of 7-8 hours and it's a continuous mental battle; it's a battle with the mind, not to let it get control of you and decide for you. And somehow we took small but safe steps and reached the top," Gabriel Baicus told the press.
Another difficult moment was in Everest's Hillary Step area, where he felt the presence of death right on the path leading to the fulfillment of his dream.
''There was a lot of hustle and bustle on Everest because there were 20-30 people there, everyone seemed to be waiting to get an autograph from Everest Peak, that's how we sat around with the banners from our sponsors, the wind was blowing, I was extremely tired. Often, the expedition is not just about making it to the peak, but it's the whole journey around the expedition. (...) Then there's the summit, it's really very important, but that's not all. Then there is the descent. I was still focused and it is very important to stay fully alert because most accidents happen on the descent: you are very tired, that euphoric moment has passed. I took off my oxygen mask on top, for about half an hour, and it made me feel terribly dizzy, my vision was blurred. You immediately feel if your brain is not oxygenated," says the climber.
The Romanian mountain enthusiast attempted to summit the Lhotse last year, without additional oxygen and a personal Sherpa, but became infected with SARS-CoV-2 and had to return.
Born in the city of Nehoiu - Buzau County, Gabriel Baicus splits his life among Romania, Spain - where he has been living for 12 years now - and Nepal, where he organizes expeditions for Spanish speakers.
Until the May expedition, Gabriel climbed peaks in Europe, Africa and Asia, following a gradual approach that saw him conquering increasingly higher altitudes, without suddenly aiming for 8,000 meters from 3,000-metre summits.
His record includes Nepalese peaks Manaslu (8,163 m), Ama Dablam (6,814 m), Mera Peak (6,476 m), Island Peak (6,160 m) and Lobuche East (6,119 m).
The Romanian climber also has a larger project underway called "Himalaya 148" that involves ascending all of the world's 14 eight-thousanders, without standing under time pressure.
Meanwhile, he climbs European mountains and is planning to explore this fall a rarely visited wild and beautiful valley parallel to the Everest, in Makalu Barun National Park, from where he intends to conquer the Mera Peak (6,476 m) and the Baruntse (7,162 m).
Baicus says that he loves the Romanian mountains, which are lush with greenery, and encourages everyone to go hike the mountains, spend time in nature, yet only with the proper preparations and following the basic rules, so as not to put their life in danger.