Home from Pumori et Al

Hello from St. John’s,

I arrived back from my whirlwind tour of North America on Wednesday morning and I’m pleased to say I am already unpacked from the expedition. It usually takes me a week or so to finally get things back in their resting places but I took the duffels by the horns and got them emptied yesterday. I spent the last four days of my trip without my bags as they got to have their own personal tour of Oregon.

As it turned out, none of my teammates were able to summit Pumori. When the sherpas fixing the route reached the summit ridge, then discovered waist deep, unconsolidated snow which made it too dangerous to continue. The team turned back and started to clean the mountain. I felt as bad for my teammates as I did for myself though I must admit, it was easier to be fully at the 3M Retreat knowing my teammates were off the mountain–there was no need to second guess my decision.

The retreat was a wonderful opportunity to talk teaching with 12 other gifted educators all within the luxurious environment of the Chateau Montebello. I still marvel at the wonder of waking up in Lukla, having lunch in Kathmandu and dinner on the plane to Hong Kong. Equally invoking marvel was the transition from the austerity of base camp to the opulence of the Montebello. The food was amazing and I had to continually talk myself down from my “mountain” of an appetitie. It always takes my body a few days to sort out that it doesn’t need to eat so much anymore.

Throughout my Canadian travels, I was lucky to meet up with many near and dear old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years, Zoe in Ottawa, Mavis just outside Kingston, Margaret and my folks in Calgary, and Laurie in Vancouver. With a bit more forethought, I might have been able to meet MC in Portland-she’s been a follower of my climbs on myeverest.com for a few years now. I showed my mom the pictures from the climb–she said she was having trouble pronouncing “Pumori” so she just decided to call it “Little Everest.” My mom continued to be touched that I was climbing the mountain in her honour.

I presented about Mina Hubbard’s expedition and it’s lessons about gender at the Association of Experiential Education conference in Vancouver, Washington and then had two wonderful days on the Oregon coast with Karen walking beaches and having fun remembering our adventures on Kilimanjaro. At the last minute, the “monster bags” were found and brought to the airport just in time to make my flight and fifteen hours later, I was home.

The climb feels a long time ago now already. I guess since I’ve had so many experiences since. On reflection, I enjoyed my time in Nepal, learned some new skills, confirmed some old ones, and am inching closer to recommitting to Everest. The time I spent on the mountain alone was a significant time for me and I have gotten lots of feedback from folks about how they saw that as important as well. In my academic career, I’ve written extensively how solo travel experiences can be pivotal in claiming competence and I suspect that my solo trip up the mountain will yield dividends for expeditions to come.

Andrew just dropped by to pick up the North Face jacket I brought for him from Namche Bizarre and I’ve started delivering the few gifts I managed to bring back from Nepal. I loved seeing Andrew’s beaming smile as he put the coat on. The WOKies went for a hike today and it was a delight not be lugging 50 pounds up above Quidi Vidi.

Paula Tessier sent me the latest fundraising total for the campaign and it’s just past $5200 counting a few in-kind donations. There weren’t as many donations as I’d hoped while I was on the mountain but the tanking of the world economy likely impacted people’s ability to give. If by chance you have been meaning to donate but haven’t here’s the on-line link one more time. If you are more comfortable using the regular mail, there is a downloadable form on my website. Most people have been surprised that my hair is still pink. It’s light pink and orange and blond with dark brown roots so I suspect a haircut is in order for this week.

My plan is to settle back into life here and see where my spirit leads me in terms of the next climb. Thanks for all your support on this climb-I’ve appreciated having you with me every step of the way. Thanks as well to everyone who donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and let’s continue to work for a future without breast cancer.

With gratitude,

TA

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