After a long and thoughtful decision-making process with Wendy and her guide team, it’s been decided that she cannot attempt the Everest summit again. There are really two core factors at play: weather and health.
Rather than the usual 2 weeks of clear weather that allows teams a reasonable time frame to ascend to the summit, this year’s window was divided by a nasty storm. Only very strong climbers can make it from base camp to the summit in a very short window. Unfortunately between Wendy’s MS symptoms, a bout of the flu, long waits for acclimatization and weather, and fatigue… it was decided that Wendy’s expedition cannot safely continue the climb. She is completely out of gas! At the pace the team was moving up the mountain, they simply would not have been able to reach the summit before the next wave of storms closes Everest for the year. In addition, a physician who examined Wendy on the mountain recommended that she not try again for the summit. It’s a short window to find success on Everest, and the team just did not have the lucky breaks to get to the top this time.
Their highest point attained was the base of Lhotse Face and they are now down below base camp trekking out to Lukla. Wendy hopes to be back in Kathmandu by the 25th.
When I spoke with Wendy this morning she was in good spirits. While she would like to have succeeded, of course, not summiting was always a distinct possibility. Only 20% of first-timers summit Everest on their first attempt. This was a particularly difficult year to make it to the top due to the erratic weather patterns and crowding on the South Col (the north face of Everest was closed by China causing most climbers to switch to the South Col).
Wendy is proud of her team, pleased with her performance and is looking forward to coming home and working hard to use the Everest experience to promote her sponsors and advance the MS cause. In spite of not summiting, the climb truly was successful in that Wendy has proved that people with MS can accomplish amazing things!
I’m expecting Wendy to be back in Boston around May 28th if the trek out goes smoothly. Please feel free to forward specific questions via comments or email to email@example.com.
Thanks, everyone, for watching Wendy’s progress and cheering her on. She’ll have a personal blog update complete with stories coming soon.
* A note on Wendy’s ‘MS symptoms’… Above 20-22,000 feet her MS symptoms start flaring up. Numbness, dizziness, vision problems, etc. that she experiences from time to time seem to get worse above a certain altitude. The problem was pronounced on the Everest climb, and I think Wendy will talk to her neurologist about it when she gets home to see if there is some reason for the escalating symptoms that we can address.