Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No summit for Wendy

Trish, Wendy's publicist, reported about mid-afternoon today that Wendy and her team had decided to 'call it a day'. Here's part of what Trish said ... ...

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.

I know that all of you join me in celebrating her courageous attempt and looking forward to her safe return home.


steven said...

it's the process and not the end result that gives the greatest learning. wendy's courage, bravery, and determination will not be lessened by not reaching the summit this time around. she has shown herself to be an extraordinary person through her actions and words. thanks for all the postings about her goldenrod.

Goldenrod said...

I was really hoping that Wendy could do it this year, but the weather was not at all cooperative. Hers was not the only team to call it quits. The window was really just too short and the trail too crowded for all to safely succeed. At least one life was lost this past week.

Never did either Wendy or Trish make mention of this year being the 50th anniversary of the first ascent, altho Wendy commented at least twice in her posts about the huge numbers of people among the many expeditions. She seemed surprised. They might not have realized why so many groups were there. The fact that the Chinese had, for all practical purposes, closed the northern route to Sherpas played a part, as well, of course.

I doubt there'll be another attempt by her. The training is grueling, her health is not the best and she'll be 56 years old next year. She sure gave it one heck of a good try! I think she'll probably spend her time now on the lecture and motivational speaker circuit, raising awareness and $$ for multiple sclerosis. Truly an inspirational figure.

I'm glad you enjoyed my posts, Steven. It was fascinating for me to find out more about whatall is involved in these expeditions.