Archive for January, 2008

Antarctica Pics…

Wendy's Flag On Ice Fixed Ropes Triumph

Kids Picture

With a picture of the kids from Jim Cleere’s 4th Grade class at Donald McKay Elementary School in Boston.

Copaxone

The summit!!

RE-ENTRY

I think I stood in the shower for 45 minutes or however long it took for the hot water to run out of the tank. Other than a quick shower in the Santiago, Chile airport sometime yesterday I had not showered since last year! I love that about mountain climbing! In fact, I have never been happier than I was in Antarctica the past 18 days. To be in a place in the world where so few have ever been and to face daily living that is so out of the ordinary with incredible people from all over the world was, for me, absolutely amazing.

Fifty of us stepped off the C130 on Dec. 30 onto what is referred to as the “blue ice”. This is a three mile strip of ice over 2000 meters thick that has been wind swept smooth where the Russian Ilyushin airplane lands. It takes over 2 miles of sliding before the plane actually comes to a stop. During what feels like being shot out of a gun from inside the belly of this beast, the rear tail is opened and we can see nothing but white and feel the sudden rush of the cold and snow. But my most vivid memory and what I hope never fades from my consciousness was the faces of all fifty of us as we disembarked down a tiny ladder onto the continent of Antarctica. Remember the scene from “The Wizard of Oz” when the movie goes from black and white to color? And Dorothy steps out into Munchkin land? Well that was what it was like for us only a thousand times better. Jaw dropping incredible standing on a frozen ocean of ice as far as the eye could see. No cities, no conveniences, stores, heck no stores period. No cars, no schools, no electricity, no water just an enclave called Patriot Hills where for three months out of the year, when the sun never sets, a little piece of civilization survives.

I have been on five different airplanes since Monday night only arriving back to Boulder late this morning. I will be brief with this update.

But I want to thank all of you who were “climbing” with me through the website. I felt you every step of the way. My sincere thanks to Trish for putting all my blogs on the site, not easy from a satellite phone dispatch and Wendy gasping for air or too excited to form a complete thought but she captured it perfectly. To the Chicks in Glousta, the Colorado gang, trainer Jen and all my friends and family, thank you for your support. I know this climb in particular frightened my family and I am sorry to put them through this but I also know they are with me and now my Mom can sleep tonight.

And to “my kids” at the Donald McKay School in East Boston!!! We did it! Your happy voices over the phone and your amazing questions and spirit guided me all the way. Hope you ate the nine pounds of gummie bears in celebration of our summit!

I’m going to climb into bed with clean sheets and blankets, a thermostat on the wall to control the air temperature and a bathroom with hot and cold water. I’m going to eat fresh vegetables, warm food and drink a glass of water that didn’t have to be boiled from snow. And although I will be comfortable I am going to dream about Antarctica because I miss her already and I feel truly blessed that I was able to bask in her beauty from the top of her highest mountain.

Climb On!

Homecoming!

This is a quick update from Santiago, Chile:

After 6 DAYS at Base Camp on Mt. Vinson watching the weather change, a plane came at 9:00 yesterday to take Brooke and I back to Patriot Hills.  At 2:00 this morning, we caught a C-130 Russian transport plane to Punta Arenas – and then yet another flight into Santiago.  In short… I will be back home in Boulder tomorrow morning!  Even though I’ve had no sleep for the past 2 days, I am high as a kite!  This mountain was amazing – my favorite climb so far.  Watch the website for pictures, video clips and stories coming soon.

A thousand thank yous to everyone who has been thinking of me and supporting me throughout this journey.

Climb on!

Wendy

We’re Safely off the Mountain…

This is a quick update from Base Camp:

Brooke and I are off the mountain and safe at Base Camp.  We are now waiting for a plane to come in and take us back to Patriot Hills when the weather clears.  From Patriot Hills, we will again have to wait for good weather to allow us to leave Antarctica on a cargo plane to Chile.  I’m told that the earliest we can expect to leave is Monday the 14th.  I’ll try to send another update when I have an estimated arrival date to be back in Boulder.

Climb on!

Wendy

Summit #5!

Great news, everyone… At 5:30 pm today (January 8, 2008) Antarctica time, we successfully reached the summit of Mt. Vinson Massif! It was a gorgeous day and we were actually able to comfortably spend time at the summit without hats and gloves. The official temperature was -8 and there was no wind with a clear sky. Brooke got some great video footage and we have photos to post on the website when I return. We are now safely back at High Camp and will leave tomorrow for Base Camp as we previously planned.  I am, of course, happily eating my celebration GUMMY BEARS!

This marks the 5th of the Seven Summits for me! I am so happy and thankful.

Climb On!

Wendy

No Summit Yet!

Monday’s climb was exhausting and the weather didn’t cooperate.  A storm rolled in during the afternoon and we were in white out conditions with high winds and temperatures in the -20 range an hour from the summit.  It was just too treacherous to risk continuing, so we have returned to High Camp and will wait here a few days before attempting to summit again.

I am so grateful for all your support! Hopefully the next post will be describing the summit of Mt. Vinson.

Climb on

High Camp on Mt. Vinson!

Whew!  Saturday’s climb was not difficult but was VERY LONG!  7.5 hours of climbing – 5 hours of which was on fixed lines at a 45% angle.  But we successfully reached High Camp and are now preparing for our summit attempt.  Sunday has been a rest day and we are planning to start our summit climb tomorrow – Monday.

I got very cold for the first time yesterday and was really shivering the last 45 minutes of the climb.  When we stopped at High Camp I had to huddle in my sleeping bag for a few hours and warm up!  But we had a great dinner in our tent and are now all snug and cozy in our down bags.

Today has been crystal clear without a cloud in the sky.  It is so beautiful here.  The silence is striking (I guess we have a constant hum of noise around us everyday).  But here there are absolutely no sounds whatsoever most of the time.  We had a nice visit with some climbers from Spain who were descending from a successful summit.  There is such a fantastic mix of people from all over the world doing all kinds of interesting things here in Antarctica!

So… our plan is to summit tomorrow (Monday) and come back down to High Camp to spend the night.  On Tuesday we will descend all the way to Base Camp, skipping Camp 2.  We do have sleds to pick up on our way down, and will hopefully be able to get all the way to Base Camp with all our gear by Tuesday night.

Wish us luck and clear weather tomorrow!  Mt. Vinson will mark number 5 of the Seven Summits – leaving me only Australia and Mt. Everest to complete my mission.  As cold as it is, there is no where on earth I would rather be at this moment.

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.