Posts Tagged 'Kathmandu'

Photos from the Trek…

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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 trish@wendybooker.net.

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!

Trish

* 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.

Congratualtions, You Are Over Fifty!

My first twenty four hours in Kathmandu.  Words once again escape me, and to describe all that I have experienced in this short a time is also going to be hard.  I can describe my emotional state in one word…. intense.  The dirt, heat, sanitation (or lack thereof) population, sights, sounds, color and mainly the squalor.  Traffic like I have never witnessed.  No rules just drivers sharing the road with rickshaws, bicycles, cars, buses, cows and millions of people.  And these roads are tiny even walking is frightening.  I was unable to take many photos yesterday (I am writing this in the dark as the electricity goes out daily all over the city.  The computer is on a generator.) Blackouts are frequent. But taking a picture was more than I could do. I had to first try to absorb all that I was seeing.  I have now been around the world, the number of countries I could not say but I can say I have never seen anything like this.  The air is filled with dust and smoke.  The smoke is from the funeral fires where the Hindus cremate their people out in the open.  They stand in homage until the fire is small, several hours. Then the ashes are swept into the river where bathing, drinking, swimming and general livelihood takes place.  Our eyes burn, we take shallow breaths so as not to cough from all that is undoubtedly airborne.  Tiny children beg but we have been told by the government not to give anything to them, it is very difficult to even pass and not acknowledge.  Both Brooke and I slipped money to a frail lady, funny how we both gave to the same woman.  There was something about her that touched us both. The streets are teaming and I feel like I am back in a time zone to which I have never been.  Leper’s, cripples and car horns.  The nose and push of humanity is everywhere.  When we finally find an enclave into which we can stop and rest we are exhausted.

But despite my western eyes taking in this very strange world, to the Nepalese this isn’t strange at all.  It is I who am the strange one.  I inquired of our Sherpa, Kharma Babu what the life expectancy is.  As you may imagine it isn’t very old.  Few people over fifty anywhere.  I would say the average age of the people I see out on the streets is 20 – 30.  How sad I tell Kharma.  “Oh no,” he tells me, “it is not so sad.  It is a wonderful thing to be old.”  I lament my age and upcoming birthday.  Ah but by Nepal philosophy we look at the young and say “ah ha, we have made it, we survived the 20’s, 30’s.  Congratulations, you are over fifty – and by Nepal standards this is far better than being young!”

I wasn’t too happy about my birthday next week although celebrating it at Everest Base camp is pretty exciting.  Now I’m thinking I may really like this over fifty thing because I too survived my youth and that’s not really a bad thing now is it?

Tomorrow we fly to Lukla and begin our trek to Everest base camp then on to Baruntse.  Our itinerary changes by the moment because of the Nepal elections and the Chinese army also at Everest Base camp both on the north and south side.  No satellite phones allowed, not computers and no Sherpa allowed (they are Tibetans) so we are adjusting as we go and will plan accordingly.  We rely on the Sherpa for our safety and progress through the Himalaya so we will see what tomorrow brings.  We are registered to climb in Nepal so from there the adventure begins.

More to follow.

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.