Posts Tagged 'multiple sclerosis'

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.

Back at Base Camp!

Wendy called yesterday to report that the weather on Everest has cleared and the team is back at Base Camp.  They are planning to continue climbing today and the first successful summit attempts are expected around the 21st.

She said that she is still feeling great.  The physical exertion is tough, but they are going to focus on gaining as much ground as possible these next few days and hope the great weather holds.  The expedition continues to have issues with satellite connections, so cross your fingers that Wendy will be able to blog again in person very soon.

Wendy said yet again how much she appreciates everyone’s thoughts and support. The team is just hoping to make a lot of progress and see how far they get.

Climb on!

Trish

Playing the Waiting Game

Wendy's Recovery Teahouse in Debouche, Nepal

Wendy's Recovery Teahouse in Debouche, Nepal

When the team came down to the valley, they were hoping to only be off the mountain for 3 days, but here we are at 5 days and counting!  The endless waiting is mentally exhausting and who knows when the weather will clear.

Wendy reports that the conditions are really horrible and even in the valley they are experiencing a severe snow storm.  Outside communications and satellite connections have been rare due to the weather conditions.  We had hoped that communication would improve at the lower elevations, but no such luck thanks to the storm!

Wendy is diong well.  She said that a few climbers had decided to leave Everest without trying for the summit, but her expedition is sticking it out and hoping that they will be able to make an attempt by the end of May as planned.  This weather delay will push summit dates back, and we are no longer planning for a possible early summit and homecoming.

Wendy thinks about all of you all the time.  Please know that your support, encouragement, belief and inspiring words mean the world to her!

Climb on,

Trish

News from Camp 2

I had a wonderful call with Wendy this morning (evening in Nepal)!  She sounded so healthy and chipper – it was great to hear the excitement in her voice.

Lhotse Face Route on Everest

Lhotse Face Route on Everest

The team spent last night at Camp 2 at almost 22, 000 ft.  They are right below the Lhotse Face – a wall of ice that they will have to climb to reach Camp 3.  Wendy said that it’s a beautiful mass of blue ice, but will pose a challenge as they will be climbing without oxygen at such high altitude.  The Lhotse Face is an unavoidable part of the traditional southeast route up Everest.   Camp 3 sits about halfway up this ascending wall of glacial blue ice. From its base to the top, the Lhotse Face rises 3,700 feet at 40 and 50-degree pitches. The entire route is fixed with ropes, and climbers get into a rhythm of pulling and stepping up to ascend.  I’ve attached an image of the route so you can visualize Wendy’s location on the mountain.

Early summits estimates are now around May 3rd-5th, but the Sherpa have still been unable to get the entire route prepped.  Wendy’s expedition will position themselves for a summit attempt based on how well they are doing with the altitude.  If they begin feeling sick or really fatigued, they will move down to a lower elevation for a while to allow their bodies to adjust.  So far, Wendy said that she is feeling good.  They continue to cough and get winded just walking a short distance, but low energy is to be expected in the thin air.

The climb to Camp 3 will probably be the most physically demanding yet, due to the fact that they will be so high and will make the climb without the aid of oxygen.  Once at Camp 3, the team will sleep on oxygen at night.  Wendy said that when the sun comes out in the daytime it is actually quite hot, but then at night the cold is bitter.  They are all bundled up in down and report that the tents are pleasant at night for sleeping and relaxing.

Wendy and Brooke had a long call with the kids at Donald McKay Elementary today and I could tell that made her so happy.  She also talked with her mom and was in high spirits as she was heading off to bed.

More news from Everest to come soon…

Climb On!

Trish

(Trainer Jen reminded me last night that everyone in the universe may not know who I am!  For those of you who don’t know, I’m Trish Thomas, Wendy’s publicist in Colorado.)

Pictures/Video on Mountain Link’s Site

Hi everyone – Trish here again…

Wendy is high in the sky and the computers are down for the count.  Looks like you’ll be stuck with me as middle man for a while.  I just spoke with her via satellite phone and here is a quick  update:

Brooke is posting photos and video whenever possible to the Mountain Link website.  Visit http://www.mountain-link.com to see the latest news.

Here is slideshow of early photos from the mountain as well:

http://www.mountain-link.com/adventures/seven_summits/Mt_Everest/Mt_Everest_Slideshow/

The team spent last night at Camp 1 around 19,000 ft. and will be moving up to Camp 2 later today.  Wendy managed the Khumbu Ice Falls well yesterday, but is glad to have them behind her!  Very treacherous.  Camp 3 is still not ready to receive climbers, but it looks like the first summit attempts will be possible by May 6th or 7th.  Wendy does not anticipate trying to be the first to the top this year, but it’s good to know that soon the team will be able to move forward as they feel able.

Wendy and Brooke are still coughing and dragging a little bit.  Their bodies cannot heal very quickly in the thin air.  But she said that physically she is feeling strong and is not having any symptoms related to the altitude (good news!).  The expedition is just going to ‘play it by ear’ as to when they push for the summit based upon everyone’s health.  If they begin feeling the effects of the altitude, the team will move back down to lower elevations to adjust and then climb up again.

Thanks to all of you who are watching Wendy’s progress.  Everytime we speak I share your comments and messages of support.  It means so much to her.

Climb on!

Trish

We are experiencing technical difficulties…

Hi all!  Trish here with an update on the expedition…

The computers are not working as planned, and Wendy has had no internet access for 3 days.  We’re hoping to get things resolved so that blog posts and email access can continue, but you followers may be stuck with me as an intermediary for a while!

Anyway, I just had a nice long conversation with the birthday girl via satellite phone – although it cuts out frequently.  First and foremost, Wendy is on the mend!  Other than a lingering cough, she seems to be feeling fabulous and is ready to head for Camp 1.  She said that of 500 or so climbers on the mountain it seems that 200 are sick, so it is not just their team that is suffering with this bug.

After 8 days at Base Camp (most of it miserable with the flu and no ‘facilities’!), they are planning to climb to Camp 1 tomorrow.  The Khumbu Ice Falls were amazing, but treacherous, and Wendy said the mountain really is challenging and is taking all her concentration.  She’ll be climbing with oxygen for the first time tomorrow as they begin to prepare for the summit push and acclimatize.

Right now Camps 1 & 2 are set up for climbers, so the expedition may move pretty quickly from Camp 1 up to a higher elevation at Camp 2 depending on how they all feel at the higher altitude.  The winds are still too high at Camp 3 for the Sherpa to make camp there, so they’ll have to watch the weather before going higher.

Wendy is doing fine and feeling strong.  All the love and support of her friends and fans are much appreciated.  If we continue to have issues with internet access, I’ll post to the blog as often as I get an update from the team.  Thanks to all of you for following!

Climb on,

Trish

Success on Summit #6!

I’m thrilled to report that Wendy and her climbing partner, Brooke, have successfully reached the top of Mt. Kosciusko in the Snowy Mountains of Australia!  At approximately 11:30 on Friday, November 21st Wendy passed one more milestone on her way to the Seven Summits.

The only mountain left is Mt. Everest…

Climb on!

Trish

Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia

Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia


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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.