Like many this year, my summer will look very differently than planned. I had been planning to set off to thru hike the 1200-mile-long Pacific Northwest Trail starting in Glacier National Park and ending in the Olympic Peninsula. For many reasons, that I won’t go into here, that hike is being postponed. Because of all the uncertainty and not knowing how things would transpire I secretly began to plan what I might do instead. I feared having the summer off for the first time ever that I would binge watch my way through all of Netflix and Disney +. Coming up with the new goal was actually quite easy, but the idea is so ridiculous and absurd and crazy. It will be the most difficult thing I have ever done mentally and physically and I wasn’t quite certain how to go about it all exactly. I started training in secret and then began slowly sharing this idea with a select few friends just to gauge their immediate response. While they all agreed that this crazy plan is a ridiculous absurdity, they were also encouraging…I think they know my stubborn side a bit too well!
So, what is this ridiculously crazy absurdity? Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world standing a proud 29,029 feet. Its popularity in the climbing and mountaineering community has only grown. I read somewhere that it is a highway of human feces and it is littered with dead bodies. Those who attempt to summit pay on average around $28,000 to $85,000. There are many approaches that climbers can choose from but on average they gain about 11,447 feet. It takes nearly 6-9 weeks to complete which includes the time to return to base camp. Known hazards of climbing Mount Everest include HAPE, HACE, death, ice fall, rock fall, avalanches, crevasse navigation, just to name a few. If you haven’t guessed by now, I am not climbing Mount Everest…the highway of poop was kind of the tipping point to a strong NOPE!
George Mallory attempted to climb Mount Everest but, in that attempt, died in 1924 and it remains unknown if he actually summited. His grandson many, many years later while training for his own summit bid used cycling as another way to train and essentially summited “Everest” on a bicycle on a hill in his local community. Several more years later, a group of cyclists in Australia known as the Hells 500 organized a group “Everesting” attempt and over time, this idea has gained momentum and Everesting is now an official challenge. The difference between climbing Mount Everest and Everesting on a bicycle is just a mere 18,000 feet and a several day difference.
“The concept of Everesting is fiendishly simple: Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 29,029 feet – the equivalent height of Mount Everest. Complete the challenge on a bike, on foot, or virtually”
Let repeat those rules using the below screenshot from the Everesting website. Sounds easy enough…SOLD…just three.simple.rules!
So my summer will be spent on a road bike learning how to become a hill climber, building my endurance so that I can cover the anticipated 200 mile or a tidge more distance, and everything else that is needed including dialing in nutrition/hydration needs all so that I can spend somewhere between 20-30 hours doing hill repeats on a single hill until a total of 29,029 feet of elevation has been gained. Who needs sleep?
Many of you might be asking why…don’t worry I am also asking myself the same question. There is something deep in my soul that truly enjoys human powered adventures. I also like figuring out what I am capable of…in that process every doubt, fear, anxiety is freely shared with all those around and often uncensored, but I always continue to put one foot in front of the other and have yet to regret doing so. I never know what the outcome will look like, it is always ever evolving and becoming what it needs or ought to be.
But I am also a very realistic person. I recognize how difficult achieving this goal will be. I know that I will want to have people along this journey with me especially on the day of my Everesting attempt. I have set a pretty darn huge goal but I have several short-term goals to guide me. But I worry on that day, deep into my attempt, that I will need something more, something beyond myself that when I am hurting and tired, or when doubt creeps in, that will keep me going.
Professionally, I am an occupational therapist. I have been blessed to find a career that I love. I have spent the majority of my career working with infants and children who are medically fragile. I have walked alongside so many families as they navigated through the world of medical fragility. And I am certain this is an understatement, but it does not look easy and at times downright paralyzing. Many had to face and live through some of their biggest fears; for most the cumulative stress of all the unknowns and having to fight sometimes day and night changed their family units; others fought insurance companies just so their children might have a fighting chance to become who they are today. What I did not realize when I entered into this career is that most private insurances have rather high copays for therapy services, they do not always approve the needed equipment, etc. Most of the children I have worked alongside are receiving 3 therapy services a week which equates to 3 copays a week or 156 per year (that’s roughly $2,300 a year just for a $15 copay, some are considerably higher). That’s not even talking about equipment needs that insurances deny, I might get into that at another time.
I have an annoying habit for seeing the good; call it dysfunctional, irrational, or delusional but it is who I am. I do not do this to take away from the hardship, to minimize feelings of drowning, or by not seeing what is wrong. Perhaps it is just the therapist in me who sees what is possible and recognizing a person’s strength. A simple example would be when hiking, I do not focus on the trash everywhere on the trail instead I see that one person who made an effort to pick it up (be that a complete stranger, a friend or myself). So, when this idea was starting to form, I knew achieving this goal would take a community that was far beyond me and quickly knew I wanted to raise money for a local agency doing good.
Elevations: A Children’s Therapy Resource Foundation is a Spokane based organization whose mission is “elevating children with special needs to reach their full potential by providing access to the resources and support they need to improve their family’s overall quality of life.” They coordinate with therapy providers to identify and serve children with special needs. They work with families to help with the cost of critical therapy services. They address barriers to care such as:
- High deductibles
- Multiple co-pays
- Limited insurance benefits
- Lack of coverage
- Uninsured services/equipment
On the low end, a climber might pay $28,000 just to summit Mount Everest. More than 10 children could have their annual copays for all 3 therapy services covered with that. The goal is to raise the equivalent of what it would cost one family in copays for one a year if they had a $15 copay just so their child can receive the necessary therapy. I fully recognize that we are in a hard time as a country (honestly as a whole planet), so I am asking those who are able to give what they feel they can. I also believe that by doing this, awareness that this organization exists is being created so that when things improve, maybe you might feel that tug on your heart to give a little another time. The gift truly changes lives!
Thank you for taking the time to read. Please pass and forward along to spread the word. Let others know about this amazing and local organization. Every child deserves a chance to be their best selves. And every donation made through Facebook Fundraiser will go directly to Elevations.