Dispatch 33 from Everest / May 16, 2012

O’Neill: Safer on Skis

Two Ascents, Both Seek Summit — Southeast Ridge Team to Focus on Education and Science; West Ridge Team of Anker and Cory Richards to Retrace Route of First American Ascent on West Ridge.

Climb to Be Covered Online Starting March 16 at natgeo.com/oneverest and www.thenorthface.com/everest. Real-time Updates from West Ridge Team to Start April 16 on National Geographic Magazine App for iPad

Many people have thought I was crazy for wanting to ski down from the summit of Everest. My standard response has always been that I am much more coordinated on my skis than on my feet.


Hilaree at Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. Dry conditions meant bringing our skis back down to Base Camp.

For example, when I was pregnant I skied until about 7 months with never a single fall or problem. However, as soon as I would take my skis and boots off, put on tennis shoes and turn around to walk, I would trip over the dog and go sprawling on the pavement.

Well, apparently my inability to walk like a normal person is no different on Everest. A few days ago, as we were finishing our final rotation on the mountain, it became evident that skiing was not going to happen.

Sam, Kris and I decided to bring our gear down and focus just on climbing. Sam and I skied from Camp 2 to Camp 1, across crevasses, ice and changing snow conditions, carrying our skis over ladders spanning gaping holes, all without incident.

But as soon as I get to the “safety” of base camp, I manage to severely sprain my ankle walking back to my tent from another camp.


While I spent the entire night freaking out that I’d ruined my chances to summit Everest, I am thankful that is not the case. It looks like we have about a week at base camp before the weather gives us our summit window.

My ankle seems to be holding steady and with lots of ice, compression socks and rest, I think I’ll still be able to pull it off. As Conrad says- Hold fast! Patience, patience, patience. I’m just in awe of my ability to take something very hard and make it a lot harder.

I’m keeping this post short but many things have happened in the past week so I will write again soon. As always thanks for all the support from everyone and keep your fingers crossed that I can get my foot in my boot in six days time!!


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