EDMOND — Reaching the summit of Mount Everest is probably the most irresistible and monumental dare known to climbers, and an Edmond woman will soon be one of the few adventurers to take that dare.
Valari Wedel will venture in March to Asia and the Himalayan mountain range. The quest is dangerous, expensive and one that Wedel anxiously awaits.
“I had decided it was time for me to pursue this dream,” she said.
On the surface, Wedel doesn't appear to be the run of the mill international mountain tamer. At 52, she's on the upper age limit of people who attempt to scale the world's tallest mountain of 29,029 feet.
And the married mother of three adult daughters didn't even take up climbing until 10 years ago.
She'll be setting out on the trek with International Mountain Guides, a professional guide company that handles expeditions including Mount Everest.
“I only made the decision to do this about six months ago,” she said. “This was the right time.”
Climbers need weeks to acclimate to the conditions. There are climbs between various camps and elevations below the summit as climbers get used to the thinner air before making the final push.
Her husband, Greg, will accompany her to the base camp. From there, they will part and she'll be finishing the trek with the group, which likely will number between 12 and 20 people. Among those will be the Sherpas, the famed ethnic group of Nepal, who are acclimated to the Everest's high altitudes and routinely accompany mountain expeditions.
If all goes right, Wedel will get her chance to climb Everest the first or second week of May, in what is the small window of weather opportunity given to summit seekers.
The last few hundred feet are probably the most dangerous, with climbers needing oxygen and pushing their bodies to the maximum. Sometimes the sheer numbers of other mountaineers can be dangerous. A human logjam going up Everest leads to delays that can exhaust the energy and oxygen of those waiting.
It's estimated dozens of bodies line the route, would-be Everest tamers who died along the way. Retrieving the bodies isn't possible. How will the Edmond Memorial graduate react to seeing the fallen climbers?
“I'd like to think I can handle it, but then again I won't really know until I get up there,” she said.