Tuesday, January 15, 2013



Journal Entry January 27th, 2008, Cerro Aconcagua, just two days before our summit. It's a helicopter drop off of supplies to the Argentinian Rangers at Berlin Camp (19,200') and also, conveniently, the removal of a body (green sleeping bag at right) of a  Romanian climber, Laurentiu Bulareanu, age 31, who died of a heart attack on descent, after a successful summit.  I watch numbly from my spot behind a large boulder, protected from the strong turbulence of the helicopter as it hovers noisily and precariously over the designated drop zone. A surreal experience as I witness the  rangers seemingly "trade" supplies for a body and watch dazed, as the helicopter lifts, cable line attached to netting with Laurentiu encased in a sleeping bag, down feathers from the bag softly floating off into a clear blue sky.  And all I can think of is a scene from Dances with Wolves, where Lieutenant Dunbar reluctantly gives up his prized knife for a vest, in a tribal custom of exchange, where the contented Sioux remarks "Good Trade". 


Is there fairness in life, I often wonder. Are there fair and equitable "trades" made by the universe and it's members? Does the loss of life mean new life elsewhere? Perhaps a death means life for a newborn, as in the lyrics to Lightning Crashes by Pearl Jam-a happy ending  based on a transference of life. This cycle of life, death and rebirth is a tough concept to accept where it involves a friend or family member. I personally choose to believe that all that happens, even death, has a purpose.  I don't believe that life is intentionally cruel or unfair.  Life comes with uncertainties and also without promise as to what challenges will be faced.  

For me, climbing mountains parallels life's challenges and uncertainties. Lots of ups and downs and highs and lows. I can only enter the mountains prepared and ready to enjoy the experience but, I can't know until I begin that climb, exactly what challenges I will face.  
This past year exemplified to me life's roller-coaster ride of adventures, experiences, emotions and challenges. Each day and each experience, a wonderful part of the  journey!

The year 2012 started off with one of the best winter activities out there- Ice Climbing! The ice in Estes Park, Co. was thick enough on New Year's' day to make some decent runs up the frozen water fall to try out my new ice picks, in the company of a few close friends.  In February, we continued our ice adventures and traveled to Ouray, Co. for some phenomenal Ice Climbing.  It was my first visit to this magnificent,  magical mecca of Ice climbing paradise.  It's an international favorite and quite common to be throwing your picks at the ice as you work your way up beautiful pillars of solid blue ice,  while listening to a multitude of varying languages below.

March was a mix of excitement and tension as my partner, Steve Parsoneault competed in a series of brutal workouts in the CrossFit Opens' hoping to earn a spot at the 2012 CrossFit Games, in California. 

The month of April calmed down for us a bit and we caught an off-season flight out of the country to do some rock-climbing on the small Island of Majorca, Spain.  We enjoyed mild temperatures, scenic views and sport-climbed beautiful routes on limestone cliffs, while being belayed right from the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.  If I could choose another place in the world to live...this would be it. I could be quite content living on the island, working in a Cafe and living the climber-bum lifestyle.

May was somewhat wrought with anxiety and anticipation as one of my best friends, Bob Berger made his way slowly up the worlds' highest point, Mt. Everest.  As is common for an ascent of Everest, he was there from March through May, training and acclimatizing. He was able to communicate with the western world, via Facebook and all of us watched daily for word of his progress. His eventual summit brought relief and happiness to myself and many friends and a much deserved celebration took place shortly after his arrival home to Colorado. It was during this celebration time that I also had the distinguished pleasure of meeting Alan Arnette, the well-known and respected Mountaineering blogger.  His blog site alanarnette.com was a valuable source of reliable information surrounding the Everest 2012 season.  Another acquaintance made  was Jim Davidson, author of the book, The Ledge.  A must read book that deservedly won the National Outdoor Book Award.  That Bob made the summit was special enough but, something else made his summit even more significant to me... the fact that Bob wore my special bracelet to the summit of Everest as a way of inspiring me to take it back there one day, in person...which I hope to do in 2014.

Summer time had a number of memorable events... I managed to fit in a few fun, local runs... the Boulder Bolder  5K and also the Diva Dash 5K obstacle course. In addition to a few 14'ers, ( my favorite hike took place on 9/11-The Fire Fighter Memorial Challenge)  I also made lots of new connections in the mountaineering world, attended some awesome presentations and was able to do a few local presentations to share the Power of Seven project.  Karma Sherpa, a Nepalese trekking guide, allowed me to present alongside him at the famous Neptune Mountaineering, in Boulder. I gave a presentation at the Boulder REI, where I was touched by the comment of a young  little girl who said "when I grow up I want to climb big hills, just like you."  A highlight this summer was hearing Jeff Evans, of Mountain Vision and his incredible stories of guiding the team (with Erik Weihenmeyer) on Everest.  His work with Soldiers to Summits and the movie Higher Ground, 11 wounded warriors climbing home from war  is impressive and heart-warming and reminded me that the power of perseverance goes a long way.  A friend of mine, Thomas Carroll, is one of the athletes for Soldiers to Summits and is a disabled vet, and climbing with him, I can tell you he is anything but disabled!
Also, during the summer...Great News! Steve Parsoneault earned a 5th place International ranking and we were off to the CrossFit Games in July, where he took 4th in the World ( in the WORLD) after a 3 day battle of the fittest. Everyone that saw the Games was inspired and motivated by the superb athletes that competed. I know I came back feeling the need to "step it up a notch" in my own training.  

Early Fall came and sadly, the loss of my oldest brother Ronnie, who had been fighting cancer for over 2 years.  The memorial was held in my hometown of upstate NY, at the same funeral home as my other brother Jeff, who fought a similar battle with cancer only 10 months prior. What I found inspiring, even with this loss, was the strength of Ronnie's family. His wife Debbie, and their three boys were there with him and for him during the entire time, as he fought the cancer.   Family was everything to Ronnie and he made every moment count.  
At the memorial, Ronnie's16 year old son (my nephew) Scott, with the poise and delivery of a seasoned speaker, got up and thanked his father for the many opportunities he gave him in life and for the support and encouragement he provided him. What a wonderful gift to his Dad that solidified meaning and purpose to Ronnie's life!  

A friend of mine, Lynn Lippert, age 67 and 3 time winner over cancer as well as a climber for FHCRC, has a saying that sums it up, "Cancer Sucks!" 

October brought about wonderful changes in my life, as I took up CrossFit (did I just say that?) and started teaching Yoga, again. The lingering Fall weather allowed  ample time for climbing with friends I hadn't seen in years and a trip to Wyoming and Utah for camping and climbing. 

Let me ask you...Is there a better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to spend it in Moab, Utah? A dream of mine for years has been to climb Ancient Art, a Fisher Tower classic. It was everything I could hope for- challenge, excitement and the need for courage to stand on a God-awful, platter sized, wobbly rock, hundreds of feet in the air, and  a 360 panoramic view of the desert, all this, shared with good friends.
As I moved into the last month of 2012, I spent an early holiday celebrating with family back East and with my daughter Lauren. ( who I am so proud of! ) We painted and decorated and gave warmth and life to her very first house!  Back in Colorado, a few more holiday celebrations with friends took place and then the year came to a close with a surprise" true" white Christmas and a wintery New Years' Eve.The final great adventure of the year was an 11 mile snow-shoe hike up to 12,000ft. on Mt. Audubon, Co. It was cold and snowy and overcast. We were alone on the trail with our dog, Bear, and it was a serene and peaceful way to complete a great year.

I have much to be thankful for.   I am surrounded by wonderful friends who share in my passion for adventure, I have a great outdoor recreation job that allows me the time to venture off occasionally to indulge in my passions, I have my health and I have a warm and supportive family. Something else I am thankful for!       My younger sister, who was in treatment for cancer most of this past year, is in full remission! Her strength, attitude and courage totally renewed my commitment to be a part of the fight.  Her treatment at solidified my confidence in their work, their commitment to diagnosing early and more accurately, finding better, less invasive treatment, and ultimately saving lives! One of them, my very own sister's!

Thanks to friends and family, we wrapped up the year with a Silpada Jewelry Cyber-Fundraiser that took place from NY to Alaska!  A huge thank you to Diane Pappas for her continued help and support in fund-raising logistics. $2,000 was raised for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (new total) over $65,000 to fight cancer through the Power of Seven project.

 As you may know, my goal of "Climbing to fight breast cancer" is ever on my mind.  My adventures serve as training opportunities as well as a way to celebrate life.  I invite you to follow my journey, support me, support the research and
live each day as if you weren't sure there would be a tomorrow
I look forward to sharing more adventures with you in 2013 as I continue my quest to fight breast cancer by climbing BIG mountains!  A very Happy 2013 to you!


1 comment:

  1. Hi Laurie,

    I have a quick question for you regarding your blog, but I couldn't find your contact information. Do you think you could send me an email whenever you get a chance?