Archive for October, 2008

What Is A Sherpa?

A Sherpa will bring you hot “Sherpa tea” made with milk and sugar to your tent first thing every morning with a huge smile.  If you were to ask him for imported Italian olives (which by the way I wouldn’t) he would move heaven and earth to get them for you.  Always with that huge smile.  If he sees you pick up so much as a cup he will rush over to take it from you.  A Sherpa is devote and reverent and holds true and firm to his Buddhist faith which he quietly adheres to.  He will pray quietly and you will see him with his prayer beads.  A Sherpa will always keep the ‘ma ni” rocks and memorials to his right passing on their left no matter what the conditions.  A Sherpa will only eat after you have eaten, only sleep once you are asleep and watch over you as if a band of angels.  They are rarely accurate with time and distance or dates all of which are irrelevant to them.

A Sherpa is always happy – we hear their laughter well into the night.  They treat you with the same happiness and joy.  A Sherpa will wipe your runny nose with his hand, wear canvas shoes wrapped in string to climb a snow covered mountain pass and never complain that his feet are cold.  He will turn on a slippery slope and grab your hand, take your backpack and attach it to his already heavy load.  He will take your cold toes out of your boot and vigorously rub them with his bare hands, blowing on them with his breath or sticking your frozen hands under his armpits until you are warm.  A Sherpa will boil bottle after bottle of hot water to put in your sleeping bag on a frozen night above 21,000 feet.

But most of all….A Sherpa will lay down his life for yours. 

If I have learned nothing else this past five weeks it is what it means to be a part of this “family of man”.  I am truly humbled by the Sherpa of the Khumbu Valley.  They have so little, they ask for so little yet they give so very much.  Sir Edmund Hillary has given and developed a great deal of what the Sherpa are today, his schools, airport and hospitals have made an enormous impact on this incredible region.  There is still much to be done but by doing we can’t do with arrogance and irrevocably change this, their country.

I write from Kathmandu having arrived a few hours ago.  In the five weeks that Brooke and I have been climbing the world has continued to spin.  The stock market crashed, the banks are in trouble and the Presidential campaign is heard even here.  We are both having a difficult time “readjusting” to just being in this century as only this morning our lives were both primitive and difficult.  As much as we wanted to be back to all our creature comforts, we both left a little of ourselves with Dawa Tenzing, Dawa Geilzing, Nema, Konza “Yum Yum” and Kharma “Tea Cup”.  Thank you to all of you for taking such good care of us and our safe return to “our” world.  We will return next spring to attempt Everest.  But in the meantime we both leave a little bit of or hearts here with you. Everest is only a part of our mission,  our return will begin the next chapter…..

Namaste

Brooke and Wendy


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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.