Mount Everest Base Camp Climb2018


Alicia O'Neill

Guest Blog: Sharing the Journey

February 22, 2017

For me, the mountains have always been a place of magic, peace and refreshment.

Since the first time I saw snow-covered peaks on the horizon, I have dreamed of going there. I wanted to explore the valleys, seeking mystery. I wanted to climb the hills, seeking perspective. I wanted to stroll the trails, seeking connection and understanding. I wanted to brave the weather and the danger and perhaps the solitude, to find courage.

It sounds a bit dramatic, but the song Rocky Mountain High was a sort of anthem in my life. I wanted to be that guy who climbed cathedral mountains and saw silver clouds below. As I got older and began to find my own spiritual path, I more fully understood lines like "his sight has turned inside himself to try and understand / the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake."

As I prepare to help lead this amazing group of people into the Himalayas, I must admit I have had some fears coming up. It's a massive undertaking, taking 20 people to the base of the highest mountain in the world. How will I respond to the physical and mental challenge? How will the elevation affect me? Can I be an effective leader and facilitator for these incredible people?

And then I remember it's not about me. Never has been. It's about us. And from my earliest trips to the mountains, I remember that it's not so much being up there that I long for; it's how I feel when I am up there. Challenged and satisfied. Awestruck and expanded. Inspired and humble. But most of all, connected. I feel connected to the mountains, to my best self, and to the people sharing this experience with me.

I have a good friend, Kristina, who won a battle with leukemia, and I will also be hiking for her. She has absolutely amazed me by not only overcoming the disease, but also fully re-engaging with her life afterwards. The courage, the strength, and the passion she has shown has simply blown my mind. Seeing that times 20 is something I cannot imagine, but cannot wait to experience.

We humans are capable of such amazing and beautiful things. It's in the face of adversity that we are so often at our best. It's in the mountains that I so often feel at my best. Sharing this incredible journey with these incredible people is an honor and a privilege.

I thank Embark and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) for letting me be a part of this trip. I wish all of us the best. I thank the mountain spirits for allowing us to visit, and I pray for a safe and fulfilling journey for us all.

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