Lucille de Beaudrap knew from the time she was just 10 years old that she wanted to scale Mt. Everest.
It’s a long-held dream that came true this past May for the Edmonton resident. de Beaudrap, 45, recently shared her experience with the Parkland Cross Country Ski Club at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. She’s a member of the Club and credits them with getting her into the back-country for lots of exciting outdoor adventures.
But looking back in her own life, she recalls writing a list of what she wanted to accomplish at that tender age. Climbing Mt. Everest was in the top spot.
“I don’t really know where it came from – probably from a book,” she explains of her desire to scale the world’s highest peak. She was always drawn to the outdoors – even noting as a kid that one day she wanted to live in a house in the woods.
“That was sort of the life I had envisioned for myself,” she adds with a laugh. But through the years, she never wavered in her wish to climb Everest. So two years before embarking on the endeavor she started training which included heading to base camp at the foot of Everest to check things out.
Last year, she also climbed Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina and Mt. Logan, and this past year before reaching Everest she was training between 15 and 20 hours per week. Most of it included climbing up a 33-storey building with a 45 lb. backpack.
Other training included running, cycling, running stairs and hill walking with up to a 90 lb. pack – no small feat for the petite de Beaudrap who is less than five feet tall and weighs in at about 125 lbs.
She finally reached base camp for final preparations this past spring. “It’s exciting being at base camp – there is all this energy and you’re wondering how you’re going to do.” At first, it’s all about acclimatizing. Climbers journey up to camp number two, spend the night, then it’s back down to base camp to rest for a few days once again in an effort to increase oxygen-carrying red blood cells.
She also remembers seeing what’s called Memorial Hill – a burial site for some of those who have lost their lives attempting to scale Everest. It’s a sobering place, and does make one ponder the journey awaiting them. But de Beaudrap knew there was no turning back.
Before climbers begin their arduous climb, they have to cross what’s called the ice falls. Huge crevices are crossed with ladders, and it’s certainly not an experience for the faint-hearted. Talk of avalanches and such doesn’t help much to bolster the nerves, but at this point it’s about keeping one’s eyes on the goal, she explains.
After hours of non-stop steep climbing, de Beaudrap reached the top of the legendary peak on May 7. Prior to getting there, she recalls feeling utterly drained. “I said to my partner my legs are done,” she recalls. “But I wasn’t turning around.”
Actually reaching the top of the mountain was without doubt a powerful moment. There isn’t much time to soak it all in before a person has to start descending. But for de Beaudrap, it marked, in a way, the end of one journey.
The entire expedition lasted seven weeks – shorter than the planned-for 10 weeks thanks to an early summit window, she said.
She said this year there was a short weather window from May 6-7. The next opportunity would have been on May 17, which would have been somewhat more crowded. About 100 people were aiming for the top of Everest that day.
“We were the only ones that took advantage of this summit window, so my climbing partner and nursing co-worker Domhnall O’Dochartaigh and our sherpas were the only ones on the mountain that day.”
de Beaudrap has been nursing for 20 years, mostly in critical care. She currently works in ICU, and has been a flight nurse working for STARS for the past 13 years.
de Beaudrap explains that climbers head to camp number one, sit for a few hours then head back down to base camp for several days.
Being back at home has brought opportunities to share her experience. She’s spoken at several schools and urges listeners to go for it in terms of accomplishing major goals. It’s a rare and wonderful gift when one takes the step to do so, she says.
“I’m hoping to be an inspiration to them to reach for their goals. That’s been my highlight. I tell people to talk about what their dreams are, and what they want to do. I also tell them to give themselves permission to follow their dreams.”