Here I am [on the right] at the base camp of Mount Everest, which is 17,600 feet. Our training and acclimatization were brilliant. We started at around 9,000 feet and then went progressively higher and slept at a higher level. The day before base camp we climbed Kala Pattar, which is 18,200 feet. We had a great view of Everest and a psychological edge for the following day. The guides and sherpas could have had a degree in exercise physiology. They knew our bodies better than we did. Two of the 10 people on our team needed to go back down because they had symptoms of altitude sickness.
This was an incredible experience, an incredible test of emotional and physical strength. You learn not to give up and to listen to your body. I was blessed and happy that I made it without physical issues. The people were kind, caring and concerned about each one of us.
—Norma Shechtman, MEd, MA, Irvine, California