Taking Community to New Heights

Greetings from a Beautiful Winter Morn,

We don’t get to see the sun much in winter and so when it shines, it’s not hard to stop and take notice. We’ve been having a wild winter with temperature swings from plus 17 to minus 15. This is the time of year where I pay even closer attention to the weather because I am teaching my winter outdoor activities class and as much as I’d like to plan out each class at the beginning of the course, I have to wait and see what the weather has in store for us.

The class is really large this term so I’ll be camping out with students over the next three weekends. It will give me a chance to check out my gear systems for my polar expedition. I leave in four weeks for Iqaluit and temperatures that can drop to minus 50 so all the cold weather practice I can get is good. I’ve continued to practice with my tire. I can’t say it’s gotten much easier to pull it up Signal Hill but at least I can say a few more words aloud as I ascend instead of just grasping for breath. The other day a friend said, “TA make sure you tell ‘em that you are not only hauling a tire–you’re hauling it with its rim!”

I’ve been struggling some with symptoms of carpal tunnel…waking at night with my hands either numb or on fire. I’ve gained new appreciation for “nerve pain” and the intensity of sensation that our nervous systems can create. I’m visiting various members of my medical support team, splitting my wrists at night, using anti-inflammatories, and thinking healing thoughts. In reading more about the disease, I was filled with fear of loss of function and strength in my hands and humbled at how quickly we can move from ability to disability. With the things I am doing thus far, it seems to be settling some and may be related to my period so I’ll keep you posted. The picture of being a mountaineer who can’t hold her ice axe is one I hope I don’t have to get used to.

During presentations, while showing the audience a picture of me in the hamster ball down at the stadium, I often say, “When you take on your Everest, you never know where the path will lead.” I had another of those experiences lately when I found myself in a soundproof black box professing my love for eggs. For 2009, I am the public face/voice for the Newfoundland and Labrador Egg Producers board. Though I have progressed in my comfort in hearing and seeing myself in the media, I may have to cover my ears the first few times I hear myself in the commercial. I’ve never been in a commercial before!

Last week, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) flag, found its way back to St. John’s thanks to Hugo Searle who volunteered to carry it to the summit of Pumori for me. As you’ll remember, it turns out that both he and I carried it to the same spot because of dangerous snow conditions on the summit ridge. The entire team was forced to retreat from Camp One. Before they descended, the team released the roll of prayer flags I had given them for the summit, by throwing them over the ridge. They captured the moment in a picture.

Friday I spoke at the “Beat the Blahs” event for the CBCF. The audience sat spellbound as I told the story of being able to hold it together at Pumori base camp in the face of the huge emotion of telling the team I was leaving to head for the 3M retreat. The emotion was in check until Hugo asked if there was anything he could carry to the summit for me. At that point, my voice cracked and welcomed the tears that were just simmering below the surface. When I needed to stop, my teammates picked up and carried on for me. One member even volunteered to go into the kitchen to get some red curry powder to make his hair pink to match mine.

Seeing the audience’s reaction to the stories of the expedition and knowing that we had raised over $5500 to help create a future without breast cancer filled me with a tremendous sense of joy and satisfaction and brought me to a new way of thinking.
In the past, I’ve participated in “Community Supported Agriculture” by buying shares in an organic farm’s harvest. From that inspiration of community members supporting farmers, I have been exploring the idea of “Community Supported Adventure.” I imagine community coming to the support of adventurers, enabling them to go out and explore and bring back images, stories, and lessons from mountains and seas and everything in between.

Since it is not always possible for everyone to follow his or her yearnings for exploration and adventure, these shared journeys can bring communities together across time, space, and kilometers. In return, adventurers can support community by raising awareness and funds through their adventures. On Friday night when I told the story of climbing Pumori in honour of my mom and in support of the CBCF-Atlantic, I felt a new sense of possibility and responsibility for my climbs and adventures to “give back.” I aim to continue to support the community that supports me.

I continue to work on unfolding the climbing and adventure schedule that will lead me back to Everest. I’m in the final stages of setting my a return to Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak in July and trying to mount the courage to reach for Vinson next fall/early winter (courage is needed because of its huge price tag).

I’ll close for this week–I have some course prep to get to and want to catch some of the sun before a cloud swallows it up. Thanks for your continued support.


PS. I still have a few “Climb for Awareness” toques that need a home. Proceeds from the sale of the toques benefit the CBCF so drop me a line if you’d like to give one a home.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s