Editors Note: Betsy wrote this column on the plane ride to Kathmandu on her way to Mt. Everest. The next time I heard from her was on April 13 via email to tell me she made it to base camp. She was also writing to tell me that her plan of emailing periodic blogs from Everest may not be possible, as logging onto the Internet via satellite from Everest is really expensive, an expense for which she had not budgeted. As soon as I get communication from her, I will post it here in the “Backroads With Betsy” section. At the end of this column, Ive provided links for diehard Everest fans who want to keep up with the action on the mountain. This may include updates on Team Himex, of which Betsy is a part.
Have you heard that country song that says, “So when you dream, dream big because just maybe someday those dreams will come true”? Well, I dreamt big, and guess what? My dream did come true! I am going to climb Mount Everest! Even just saying it out loud sounds almost silly to me. When I went around Los Angeles gathering the gear for my adventure, I could see the looks on the faces of the athletes working at the adventure stores. There I was, all 120 pounds of me in my little white workout outfit asking for a one-piece down suit, an ice axe, crampons, a harness, and a 40-below sleeping bag. When they asked me where I was going and heard me answer with Mount Everest, they assumed Id be visiting Base Camp. When I told them I was shooting for the summit, Id get a long pause and then the look the “this girl has no frickin clue” look.
I realize they were thinking that my money would be better spent on some good therapy. In my lifetime, I have never been met with so much negativity on my way to attempt an outstanding challenge. The process I had to endure to even get to the bottom of this mountain has been overwhelming! I wonder if a 6-foot 5-inch ex-Hells Angel is met with this kind of attitude. Somehow I doubt it. But you know what? I dont doubt myself, and thats whats most important. Even when the wave of negative response make me wonder if I should doubt myself, I did not allow fear to creep in and deny me passage to my dreams, desires and goals.
I did have to do a lot of soul searching on this one. I have always said that my lack of fear is based on faith, and from day one of this pursuit I told God that if he couldnt see me through this safely, then prevent it from coming together. I asked that if my journey was headed in the wrong direction, then for him to change my direction. If this is not what God desires for me, then I wanted him to close the door. But you know what? Not only did he not close the door, but he provided each part of the process like a well orchestrated plan. I never would have thought that in two months I could come up with this idea, raise the money, get all of the gear, and arrange my affairs for a three-month absence. But it all unfolded before me, the pieces came together, and I am writing this column from Katmandu. In a few days I leave for Tibet, and by next week, Ill be on that mountain. Yikes!
The people who love me stepped forward in my life to turn this dream into a reality. Even people who just heard my story stepped out on a leap of faith to help. From $20 donations, to sponsors for my insanely expensive gear, it came together one step at a time which is exactly my plan for each of the next 75 days: one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.
Everything falling into place as it did gave me the reassurance I was looking for. This process felt as if it was meant to be. But what I wasnt expecting as a part of the process was being forced on some levels, to look at my own mortality. This expedition is being led by world-renowned veteran climbing expert Russell Brice, and is being filmed for a six-part documentary that will air in the fall of 2007 on the Discovery Channel. So I had to sign waivers basically saying that if anything really bad happens, they are not responsible. Its the same forms you fill out when you jump out of planes, or bungee jump off mile high bridges. But when literally hundreds of people offer you their two cents on the dangers of your endeavor, at some point you really cant help but realize that something could go wrong. It could go very wrong. I know the dangers. I know the dangers of a lot of things I do. I know this will be the most difficult, miserable experience of my life. I also know it will be undeniably the most challenging, exhilarating, and rewarding experience of my life.
I believe that all paths have led me to the place I stand today, and that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. So I have decided to look at the half full portion of the glass, and believe that facing my own mortality is not a bad thing. The last few weeks have been a frenzied mess with so much to do in so little time. But the grand realizations as I said each goodbye, and closed each door for the last time were crystal clear. My God, I love my life! What a great life I have! Absolutely I do not want it to be the last time I see my family. I love them so much, and I am needed by them, all of them.
I have the most beautiful Siberian husky that ever lived, and the thought of his clear blue eyes will warm my coldest moment. I made a commitment when I adopted him to take care of him for all of his days. I am so lucky to have called so many women and men my best friend during different periods of my life, and to now have so many best friends! I love my house, I love my yard, I love my motorcycle, I my love life. I have been blessed with a strong body, a curious mind, and an adventurous spirit. I am not a gambling woman. How could I risk so many wondrous gifts? They are all gifts of God, as is my very life. I am not just now just consciously putting my life in his hands, but it has always been there and always will be.
I absolutely do not want to leave this earth and these people and I have no intentions of doing so. I hope to have an outrageous, spiritual adventure on Everest. None of us really gets to know or choose how or when we will be called home, but we do get to choose how we live. I have so much waiting for me at home, but I have those waiting for me in heaven as well. Its a win, win situation, so its all good! I hope to come home with a higher sense of awareness and appreciation than ever before.
I am gone through June 15th, so Ill only have just over a month to thaw out before heading for Sturgis. But tune in to my next column, which will be a photo reflection of the friends and roads I have ridden down over the years. This journey also lit a fire under my feet to finally get my photography Web site up and running. So if you havent seen it yet, log on to BetsyHuelskamp.com. I will try to send periodic blogs via satellite from the mountain. So check in here at WomenRidersNow.com and my Web site to read posts of my progress on my journey! As always, ride safe! Ill see you in Sturgis!
To see more of Betsy, visit her Web site at BetsyHuelskamp.com.