Thursday, December 6, 2018

Day 311 Hilaree Nelson-Adventurer- Explorer-Live Outside the Box

Hilaree Nelson is one of the first Women to summit Mt Everest and its neighbor peak, Lhotse, in a single 24 hour  period. As part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust lecture series, this adventurer recently brought her  National Geographic Live Tour, The Point of No Return, to Pittsburgh. She shared her adventure of leading a team of elite climbers on a grueling climb to the summit of Bruma's Hkakobo Razi (a remote peak in the Asian country of Myanmar). Her amazing story of determination and passion for the climb was an inspiration to never quit and “live outside the box”.

My blog inspiration Book, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book” recommends that we “Dare to explore”. That is just what Hilaree has done her entire life. Her sense of adventure and survival started as a child when her family spent summers on a boat along the western intercostal of Canada where she learned to play and live off the harvest of the sea. She was a competitive high school athlete and after graduating college in Colorado, she spent 5 years climbing and skiing the French Alps.

 A horrific skiing accident that occurred during her guide of a heli-skiing expedition changed  her life direction. She found her peace and solace in the mountains and in 2012 conquered Everest and a neighboring peak. Adversity can fuel self -discovery as it causes us to make a change or sink. That is just what this blog is about: finding your passion by trying new things after hitting  bumps in the road of life. Maybe that is why her story had a magnetic pull on me and seemingly the audience because this woman found and lived her passion.

The retelling of the climb to Hkakobo Razi, in the remote Asian country of Myanmar, reminded me of the Star Trek opening: “To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and civilizations and to boldly go where no man has gone before.”  Just to get to this mountain’s  base, Hilaree planned travel by bus, boat, train, small plane and  through a dense jungle. The rain forest  trek was so difficult that at one point they  only went 80 miles in 4 days on motorcycles. The team endured  leeches, spider bites and  precarious hanging bamboo bridges across rivers and deep valleys.  I was amazed that they  kept going. I wondered what really drives a person to proceed - love for the adventure or fear of failure?

The month of grueling travel was the pre-game before the  challenging mountain climb that was only successfully conquered once before. They had no road map through Hkakobo Razi’s jagged ridges and the team hit several dead ends having to retrace  steps. They endured bitter winds of 50 to 70 miles an hour and battled hypothermia and a diminished food supply. Hilaree had to be creative in the planning of this climb  and this team had to fall back on their gut, skill, and unbelievable determination in order to survive and press forward.  

*Team depleted at end of expedition- Renan Ozturk,Mark Jenkins, Cory Richard, Emily Harrington, Hilaree O'Neill
Photo by Taylor Rees
This was a true  story of stamina with many “points of no return”.  There were disappointments when the  team had to split because the climb was too technical, leaving  the 3 men to peruse the peak and the two women to wait at camp. Even  though they did not  reach the peak of Hkakobo Razi, they all dared to explore it.  Hilaree was an honest storyteller. Her  words were heartfelt  as she shared how the trip evoked self discovery and personal life lessons ( see National Geographic video here).

Hilaree was inspiring and a heartfelt story teller
Her life and story was a reminder to "live outside the box”. Our personal life expeditions  might not be as magnanimous as climbing a remote mountain. I am just trying to conquer the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge (see Day 278  ) but this story is a reminder to keep a forward trajectory in life, follow our passions and continue, as Hilaree reminded, to “explore, dream and discover”.

(For more Talks and Poets sponsored by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust go

Spiritual Source
I Lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121 1-2)

 Other Sources

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