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Edmond woman hopes to climb Mount Everest

Valari Wedel, of Edmond, plans to make an attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest in May
BY STEVE GUST Modified: January 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013
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“You don't even attempt something like this thinking the worst.”

She's climbed other peaks, including Cho Oyu in the Himalayas in 2010, and in 2005 Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska with an altitude of just over 20,000 feet.

“I do a lot of running, biking, lifting and yoga,” she said.

She burns a lot of calories and will burn even more on the trail up Everest. While most people use the new year to lose weight, Wedel needs to put on pounds. She'll need the extra weight for the push on Everest.

“I'd like to gain another 15-20 pounds, but have only added six so far,” she said.

Her 4,000 calorie a day regimen includes three 850-calorie shakes a day. If she still hasn't gained weight closer to her March 23 departure, she has a plan B.

“I'll be going to the fast-food restaurants quite a bit,” she said.

Conquering the famous peak isn't going to be an annual event. This will be a one-time shot for Wedel. Oklahomans achieving the feat are rare.

In 2007, Dr. Douglas Beall, of Oklahoma City, who worked in Edmond at the time, completed the quest. He said he was the first registered Oklahoman to climb Everest. Another reason for the rarity of the climb could be the cost. Guide companies can charge $40,000 and more for the various expertise and permits required.

Women routinely make the climb, although the first woman to scale Everest didn't accomplish the feat until just 20 years after Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit in May 1953.

“I think women can have the same stamina and mental toughness to do it,” she said.

If all goes to plan, May 30 will be the return date to Oklahoma. She'll go back to studying nursing at the University of Central Oklahoma, where she's taking the semester off. She'll also always be mom to Colby, 25; Jessie, 24; and Abigail, 20 — a junior at Oklahoma State University.

Wedel places no limits on herself.

“If I could say one thing, it would be that it's never too late to go after your dreams or whatever you want to do,” she said. “I'm going to be a nurse and I'm going to climb Mount Everest and I'm in my 50s.”