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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

Mothers’ meeting on Makalu

First view on Makalu (© Adrian Ballinger/Facebook)

First view on Makalu (© Adrian Ballinger/Facebook)

“We walked into base camp, dropped our packs, threw on our down jackets, and looked up. Makalu chose that moment to expose her summit”, Adrian Ballinger wrote on Instagram after yesterday’s arrival at the foot of the fourth highest mountain on earth. “Awe is the only word to describe the feeling.” Ballinger is leading a team of US climbers that is remarkable in several respects. First, it is even the only expedition on this eight-thousander in Nepal this fall. Second, the team will try to realize the first ski descent from the 8,485-meter-high summit. And third, three of the five expedition members are women, two of them mothers, and that’s not just commonplace in high-altitude mountaineering.

This time without oxygen

Ballinger, head of the US operator Alpenglow, is an experienced expedition leader. The 39-year-old has reached the top of eight-thousanders twelve times, he scaled Mount Everest six times. Adrian succeeded in skiing from Manaslu and Cho Oyu. His team members are his countrywomen Emily Harrington, Kit DesLauriers and Hilaree O’Neill and, as the second man in the team, Jim Morrison. The 29-year-old Emily, Adrian’s girlfriend, wants to climb Makalu without supplementary oxygen. It would be her second eight-thousander after Mount Everest, the summit of which she had reached in 2012 with breathing mask. Kit, aged 45, was the first woman who set off by skis from the highest point on earth in 2006. But it was not a complete Everest ski descend due to the dangerous conditions in the upper part of the mountain. DesLauriers plans to ski from the summit of Makalu. The 42-year-old Hilaree wants it too. She already made a ski descent from Cho Oyu. In 2012, O’Neill managed to reach the summits of Everest and Lhotse within 24 hours. Jim Morrison is a building contractor from California who has made a name for himself in the scene with some first ascents and extreme ski adventures.

Opened up some doors

Quinn and Grayden in Nepal (© Hilaree O'Neill / Facebook)

Quinn and Grayden in Nepal (© Hilaree O’Neill / Facebook)

O’Neill and DesLauriers are mothers. Hilaree has two sons, Kit two daughters. O’Neill’s husband Brian, the eight-year-old Quinn and the six-year-old Grayden accompanied the team on the trekking to the base camp. “Having our boys on the trek has opened up some doors with the locals”, Hilaree wrote on Facebook. “And they have been making lots of friends so far.” Her sons have already been several times at an altitude of 14,000 feet and are therefore well prepared, says O’Neill.

Incorporating adventure into family life

The two daughters of DesLauriers, aged six and seven, have stayed at home with Kit’s husband Rob. Not all people understand that she is going on an eight-thousander expedition as a mother of two children, DesLauriers admits: “Thankfully for me, there are those in contrast to the naysayers who believe that it’s a priceless example to children of both genders when women continue their passionate pursuits after becoming mothers.” She prefers shorter trips in favor of being with her children as much as possible. “Each time I leave home is hard for me, and I’m sure it’s not easy on the kids either”, says Kit. “Yet each time I return I’m more present as a parent and full of ideas about how to next incorporate adventure travel into our family life.”


30. August 2015 | 10:17