No Summit for Wendy…

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

Thanks, everyone, for watching Wendy’s progress and cheering her on.  She’ll have a personal blog update complete with stories coming soon.

Climb on!


* 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.


30 Responses to “No Summit for Wendy…”

  1. 1 Sheryl May 20, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Hey Girl, The true success was in the attempt and making good decisions to ensure everyone comes home. I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments! Now get your butt home, the chicks need a night out!
    Bona Fiesta!!!
    Sheryl 😉

  2. 2 Beverly May 20, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Ditto above!

    There’s a party w/ your name on it in Boulder, too! We’re celebrating a successful attempt and the fact that you’re still healthy… so proud of you, girl!

    Love, B

  3. 3 Laura May 20, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Hey Wendy and Team! I am glad to hear that you all are safe and I look forward to following your future attempt! Proud of you and proud to be on Team Copaxone!!! Everything is for a reason! Climb On!!!

  4. 4 Beth Erickson May 20, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    The success of course is that you tried and most importantly, that you know when to stop. So many have unfortunately not been able to give up the dream, and they have consequently given up their lives in the process. We are all proud of you, all you have done, and all you stil have yet to do. You have been a great inspiration to us all. Beth

  5. 5 Wendy Drake May 20, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Dear Wen,
    Sending good karma your way…still.

    Wen and Sadie Girl

  6. 6 Kim May 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Truly an amazing effort. Congratulations and good on you for taking mother nature at her word and coming down. Thanks for proving what we can all do!!

  7. 7 Jen May 20, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Dear WenWen,
    As the saying goes, “Its not about the destination, but about the journey.” I just know that this was an incredible experience for you and I can’t wait to have a long conversation with you and hug you and tell you in person how incredibly proud I am of you. My best to Brooke, your Sherpas and the rest of your team.
    Love, JenJen (aka Trainer Jen)

  8. 8 Carol May 20, 2009 at 10:48 pm


    I am so proud of you and your team. As Jen says, it truly is not about the end result, but about the journey to get there. What you did is unbelievable and incredible.

    I can’t wait to hear about the whole experience. – yes, all of the details.

    If are you in need of a walking partner when you return, I’m your girl.

    Think – martinis, pizza, and gummy bears!



  9. 9 Mary Cody-Kenney May 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    You have been truly successful because you tried… Congratulations, Wendy. I am in awe of you ~ you inspire me. Thank you.

    With love and admiration,

  10. 10 CATHYSULLIVAN May 21, 2009 at 12:33 am

    . COME HOME !!!


  11. 11 Maida Broudo May 21, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Oh my God….What a brave and hard thing to do…all of it! The hardest thing is having so much be out of your control…! That is a life lesson for sure…

    Oh how I miss you gir! We are so proud of you and all you have done! You now have more stories about disapointment and how to deal..which will help your fellow MS folk and all of us alike!

    We love you and can’t wait to see your blown dry blonde hair and hear your laugh..and, like the Phish chicks…time for a night out!

    Much love to you sweet girl!



  12. 12 Charlotte May 21, 2009 at 1:20 am

    Smart move, Wendy; the mountain will wait. It’s a savvy mountaineer who knows when enough is enough and this year did not bode well for Everest with bad weather, flu, avalanche in the icefall, almost reaching BC, and at least 4 deaths. let’s get real! There will be other opportunities and you should feel very good about having been able to transcend so many obstacles. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures! Safe home! Way to go girl! Namaste, Charlotte – sister mountaineer and admirer 🙂

  13. 13 Helen May 21, 2009 at 2:30 am

    Well, you’re sure having a season’s worth of adventure in all events! Your learning curve, your ‘0-to-sixty in no time flat’ will stay in my memory as the contrast between your timid attempts on the painters’ ladders in Oregon this December and what I read of your maneuvering the icefall…. What you’ve accomplished is as vast as the world around you up there! What next indeed.

    And the kids, Wendy! Think of the lessons they’ll take from your success, as well as from your recognizing that the highest summit isn’t the most important point.

    Imagining you expanding back into thick air wellness. Thanks for the trip!

  14. 14 Phil May 21, 2009 at 2:34 am

    No doubt you and the team made a good decision, because we all know how competitive you are! The mountain will be there, and you’ll be back. Looking forward to hearing the stories.

  15. 15 Mary Marcdante May 21, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Wendy, once again I am in awe of all that I learn from your choices and the insights others have recorded here. Finding the mountain, pacing the climb, knowing when to stop, dancing with disappointment, and creating a legacy of self/team leadership for us all. When you visit San Diego on your world tour, I would be honored to hike with you to the top of Mount Woodson and up and down the Torrey Pines Canyons to the beach. Your fan, Mary

  16. 16 Cinda Devine May 21, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Wow! What a ride you have been on! We are thinking of you and praying for a safe return for you and your team. Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You are an inspiration to us all. Living the dream in Chugiak, Cinda

  17. 17 Della May 21, 2009 at 11:47 am


    I am so proud of you! What a journey. What stories you will have. What life experiences to share. Life has thrown a big curve at you with having MS and look at how you’ve handled it. With honor, pride, strength, and determination. You are an inspiration. You are my hero.

    Hope you come to Colorado soon!


  18. 18 Hether May 21, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Wendy –

    “Life’s a journey, not a destination.” So many have said, and it is so real. I have missed you but have followed your climb with fascination. I had no idea Everest has a limited window to climb! (Learn something new every day).

    You are an inspiration to any of life’s challenges. Your stregth and determination give us courage to fight back. You are my hero. There is a big hug waiting for you.


  19. 19 Suzie Schottelkotte May 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I am in such awe of you, Wendy! Your compassion, tenacity, determination and willingness to face off against any challenge is nothing less than astounding. Inspirational, absolutely! Your belief in anyone’s ability to overcome Herculean challenges inspires me every day!

    Best of luck to you as you move forward from here! Somehow, I think we might see you back here again.

    Take care, and know that you’re in my thoughts!

    Love in Chi O,

  20. 20 Charley Akers May 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I’m with Charlotte, GOOD CAll.

  21. 21 Terry and Chris May 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Dear Wendy, We are so incredibly proud of you! The amazing pictures we have seen of climbers on Mt. Everest, the blogs we have read of the extreme difficulty of their task—and you have been there doing those things! We still can’t get our heads around that! All our love, Chris and Terry

  22. 22 LIZ DONOVAN May 22, 2009 at 1:14 am

    You are so courageous, powerful, loving and just SMART to listen to your body and advisors! What an inspiring journey you have been on and I look forward to another ‘girls night’ in Sarasota! Please continue to be safe so you can share your message with others. Peace, joy and love.

  23. 23 bobtheisen May 22, 2009 at 5:19 am


    I can’t say enough about what an inspiration you are to me & others with MS.I can honestly say I was very lucky to get to meet you in 2002, when you were just starting out on your incredible journey. I am also humbled to know something I gave to you was on the climb…Go B-D Safe Clip…LOL. I look forward to seeing you the next time you are in the Tampa area
    Take Care, Bob

  24. 24 Minna Blair May 22, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Wendala…to hear your voice last night was sooo great….I am so glad you are safe and on your way home…celebrations are awaiting….CONGRATULATIONS…the fact that you even attempted is AMAZING…..and you are the most determined person I know so good for you for having the guts to turn around……….Have a safe journey home……Love n’hugs Minna

  25. 25 Kim Daly May 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Wendy….what an amazing trip. Very inspiring mission and I know how proud Shawnie would be right now (as we are as well). Smart decision given the weather and how things were shaking out – an elite mountaineer makes those good decisions and lives to tell about it.

    We can’t wait to meet up once you’re home. Congratulations and big hugs!

  26. 26 Judi Sabella May 23, 2009 at 12:33 am


    I am speechless at the feat you attempted and glad that you are home to continue to share your determination and encouragement with others. You are amazing and God has blessed you with these opportunities to make a difference in many, many lives.

    The face of MS today is very different than it was in the 80’s. Praise God for medical advancements and pioneers like you.

    Hope to see you in Manchester soon. BRAVO!!

  27. 27 paula and mr.cleeres class May 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    wendy i am really sorry that you didnt make it to the summit.wendy i have a question for you it is. were you scared when you first saw mount Everest? why or why not. wendy when are you going to call us or come to awere class room.

    miss you!!!! wendy i was praying for you and god helped me do that. wendy i hope you do not try again because ever one was worrying about u in the class but more me i was crying of scare ness and you made the right thing to not climb mount everest because you tryed and you didnt make it so i am proud of you and i thing ever one is to

    love you wendy!!!
    love paula and mr cleeres class

  28. 28 Penny May 24, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Just so you’ll know the magic is real….I didn’t want to go to PT today because the pain had me somewhat demoralized, then I came by here to catch up on your climb and learned of your wise decision not to continue…and thought…if Wendy can find the courage to come DOWN from the mountain, surely I can find enough to take one more small step up mine.

    I just keep thinking….”she is THERE…she is really up there…on Mt. Everest!” Do you have any idea how AMAZING that simple fact is?!

    Stay safe, warm and know you are AMAZING…

    All the Best,

  29. 29 Christine St. George May 24, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Hi Wendy,

    Thank you so much for being such an awesome inspiration to so many people. You are My HeRo!!! I look forward to hearing more about your life’s journeys………you rock!

    I joined a group on Facebook entitled World MS Day and I’ve invited Trish at to join as well. Might be a nice way to raise more awareness to your wonderful cause.

    Take Care,

  30. 30 Jill J. Hughes May 28, 2009 at 6:55 am

    NO SHAME – NO EVEREST – this time around! 😉
    You made a wise move Wendy, and one that I am sure you had 2nd thoughts.
    I for one say YOU are still AMAZING and are such an inspiration to us ALL! 🙂
    I’m so glad YOU are safe and sound, and glad to hear you will get with your doctor soon after your return home.
    Besides, Wendy, had you finished your climb what would we all have to look forward to??
    Way to keep us in suspense…. LOL
    Or perhaps YOU didn’t want to miss the first ever worldMSday?!!

    Happy worldMSday to YOU and all you have done and are going to do in the future despite this disease!!

    Kudos to YOU –
    with LOVE from the deserts of Arizona- Jill

    (now maybe you can warm up?)

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May 2009

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.

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