Wednesday, August 12, 2009

News from Wendy

I just read her latest newsletter and was almost shocked to learn that she is planning to return to Everest for another summit attempt next year! In fact, her training will begin shortly.

For those of you who do not know or remember who Wendy Booker is, I recommend this post for the best overview of her story.

Here is the main body of what I read today ... ...

Recap of Everest

Everest 2009 was an amazing experience and despite not summitting, I came away from the attempt a whole lot wiser. Climbing Everest is really like a game of chess, one poorly strategized move and your summit attempt is in jeopardy. Our team was plagued with several set backs including the death of our friend and high altitude cook, Kajee. Kajee died from alcohol poisoning. After that our team was left with a huge hole and heavy hearts. Our ability to regroup and focus on the climb ahead was greatly impacted.
The weather was a constant hindrance, this year there were only four days - May 19 through the 22nd to make an attempt. I had hoped to go for an earlier summit but by May 19 found my energy level lagging and my MS symptoms more pronounced from exhaustion. Just below Camp 1, I realized every other climber was blowing past me and that my speed was a holding my team back. Risking the lives of others isn't worth it at any cost, so we opted to turn back. The decision was heart wrenching and I shed many tears before firmly resolving to return next spring. I didn't even need to make the decision from a warm beach with a daiquiri in hand!!
Shortly after my return to the comforts of home I was excited to take this year's fourth grade class from the Donald McKay School in Boston for our annual trek up Mt. Monadnock. Okay maybe excited is the wrong choice of words. After being on Everest for nearly two months, facing another mountain - even a 3000' one - less than two weeks after my return left me feeling anything but excited. But year after year the kids touch my heart and rejuvenate my soul, and this year was no exception.
I had the
honor of accompanying Joseph to the top. For Joseph this was a true "dig in" experience
- blood, sweat and tears
but he made it!!! It took everything he
had and then some, but hey? isn't that
what I always say about the mountains? A poignant lesson was learned by several kids who did not reach the summit. Just like my 'no summit' on Everest, they know the value of the effort, the journey and the lessons learned along the way. The group that didn't summit were quick to surround me with hugs and their own words of inspiration... very philosophically assuring me that a 'no summit' was all part of the experience. Out of the mouths of babes!
But the biggest excitement of all was the coin drive that took place while I was in Nepal. The class set about their very own fundraiser to earn money for our little Sherpa girl, Phura Yangjee Sherpa, and her mom, Bandi.
They launched a school wide campaign with posters, collection boxes, daily announcements over the PA system and key rings and compasses stamped with "The Wendy Booker Project" Their efforts were amazing and now with their help The Other Side Of Everest Educational Foundation has been officially launched! The school raised over $850.00!!!! They truly represent my 'mission statement' - linking the children of inner city schools who have very little to give with the children of Nepal who also have so little. By giving we learn so much about ourselves. "My kids" are rock stars!
And so the best is yet to come! The foundation is in place. I have an awesome board of directors, a fabulous web site and am already busy raising money. We will be able to educate five children this year and send a deserving climbing Sherpa to the Khumbu Climbing School! Yup, all my kids are rock stars!!
Mid-June found me in Rhode Island on a bicycle riding in the MS 150. Not very smart taking this on with absolutely no training so soon after Everest!
I managed to
finish in a decent time, but I whined the entire 150 miles. In spite of the whining, I have to say those bike rides are the best and I encourage anyone who may want to participate in a fun, well-supported event to look into one of the many MS bike rides across the country. I have participated in so many I can give you a first hand account:

* my favorite
state (Louisiana was a blast!)
* the hardest ride (Colorado by far)
* the best food
(South Florida - okay, we drank margaritas in Key Largo... does that count?) I will be doing several more this fall so my list will certainly be updated. And somewhere in between all this fun and travel I met with trainer Jen in Boulder last week and it is time to once again get back in the saddle. Training commences in earnest in August... darn. I've loved my two months of food and wine and rest. I returned from Everest
12 pounds thinner, and yet I am resuming training over weight. As a friend says, "I've been eating like I am on death row." It's been great!
So I can confirm that, YES, I will climb the big Kahuna yet again next spring! I am anxious to return to my beloved Nepal because, more than the mountain, I have my Sherpa children to check up on, schools to meet with, and scholarships to award.

August will find me on the beach relaxing before I start a whirlwind tour of the US. Hope to meet many of you out there as I criss-cross the country this fall. I'm also anxious to meet my new class of fourth graders so we can begin another adventure together. My journey with MS continues to grow...
Have a safe and wondrous summer. See you on the road.
Climb On!

From the above link, you can go to a number of other posts, some of which are mine and others will link you directly to a couple of her blogsites ... just all sorts of good stuff here, actually! I published at least one more about her, where I talked about how she had made the really difficult decision to call it quits for this year.

Hers is a truly inspirational story, and I am really surprised that she has decided to even begin the arduous training necessary before attempting another try to reach the summit of the world's tallest mountain next year.

What surprising, joyful and courageous news this is, and I just couldn't wait to share it with all of you. I know that many of you will be joining me in sending as many positive thoughts as we possibly can her way in the coming months.

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