The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Stawiecki as the oldest woman to complete the “Seven Summits,” the highest mountains on each continent, and as achieving the fastest aggregate time for a woman to complete marathons on all seven continent. View the Guiness Book of World Records entry

Jeanne has done it!

Finally, the wait is over. We bided our time, forced to go about our daily routines while anxiously waiting for Jeanne Stawiecki’s extraordinary announcement. In addition to her family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances that have become fascinated by Jeanne’s story of triumph have been checking for her celebratory dispatch from the summit of Mount Everest.

Then, at 7:10 a.m. on May 22nd, we finally received the two-sentence update we had all been looking for. “We are happy to announce that part of the Alpine Ascents Everest team is standing on the summit and the rest of the group is not far behind,” writes an anonymous dispatcher, who then goes on to list Jeanne Stawiecki as a member of the first group to summit.

It seems a bit strange that this blurb is the capstone on such an exceptional expedition. Jeanne writes from Namche Bazaar (a Nepalese refuge for the pre- and post-Everest climbers), “It has not sunk in yet that I have climbed the highest mountain on earth!” I suppose it hasn’t registered with all of us either, at least not yet.

However, as I write this blog, I am slowly coming to the realization that she has done it. Jeanne Stawiecki climbed the peak that stands out from all others as a test of superlative athletic achievement. Despite the modest nature of the announcement, it holds so much weight. It affirms the power of humans to overcome the odds. Without pomp or circumstance, Jeanne has officially become the hero we all knew she was. Now the mood shifts from anxiety to excitement, as we eagerly await her jubilant return to U.S. soil. She is expected home on June 3rd, and by then I am sure it will have sunk in with all of us: Jeanne has done it.

An inspirational week

With every running of the Boston Marathon, I always find the stories about the runners inspirational. Expanding on Heather Conover’s theme, a story that appeared in the MetroWest Daily News ( on 4/17/07, the day after the marathon, showcased a 22-year-old runner with cystic fibrosis whose twin brother jumped into the race in Framingham to support him as he finished the remaining 20 miles.

Similar to Jeanne Stawiecki and Deborah Bullerjahn, this young man was able to overcome adversity and run a marathon. As I continue to read the many inspiring stories of the individuals who completed the Boston Marathon, and as I read and watch how the Virginia Tech community is rising above the horrible events of this week, I am in awe of the human spirit and its ability to overcome the odds .

All About Yaks

Yaks are an important part of the Everest expedition. I wanted to learn more about these giant beasts.

I found out that there are 12 million domesticated yaks in China, and an unknown number roam wild in the Himalayas. The wild Yak are vegetarians and have been in decline due to poachers who have cut their herds in half over the last century.

Meanwhile they are being domesticated in Idaho and Colorado because of their ability to ride, pack and pull as well as well as for their meat, milk and wool.

They are well equiped to travel up Everest with an expedition because they survive temperatures as low as – 40 deg C (- 40 deg F). And, imagine the 160 yaks on this journey, traveling in single file, carefully stepping on footprints left by the lead yak, carrying so much vital equipment for the safety and well being of the climbers.

Another amazing marathon woman

On this the eve of the running of the 111th Boston Marathon, the local papers are filled with stories about marathons past, as well as tomorrow’s marathon in which runner’s are expected to have to endure a nor’easter.

A story in yesterday’s Boston Globe by Bella English, entitled “The woman who ran around the world,” tells an inspiring story of Deborah Bullerjahn who is running her 20th marathon:

As did Jeanne, Deborah ran marathons on each of the seven continents. Deborah pursued a goal of finishing among the top five women in her age group on each continent and has run 19 marathons in total. She’s run the Antarctica Marathon twice and after the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon she even did some climbing. However, after being diagnosed with cancer, she thought her running days were over. Yet four years later after surgeries and chemotherapy, she is running for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to raise money for cancer research.

Deborah is cancer-free now, but there’s no cure for her cancer. Her past accomplishments and her enduring courage are a shining example and inspiration to us all.

Following the Wisdom of the Dalai Lama and Buddha at 16,000 feet

Jeanne’s last dispatch led me to do some online research. I was curious about the reference to the dates that had been chosen for the puja and the role that the Tibetan calendar plays in Tibetan life today. Having given some talks to my daughter’s school classes about Chinese New Year and the Chinese calendar, I was sure that the Tibetan calendar would be rich in history. I wasn’t disappointed.

As for the planned date of April 13th for the puja, I found a number of interesting references to auspicious and inauspicious days in the Tibetan calendar. For example, good days to begin journeys are the ninth, nineteenth, and twenty-ninth dates of a lunar month. According to Dr. Alexander Berzin, a teacher of Buddhist practice and philosophy and Tibetan-Mongolian history and astro-medical theory, if “Tibetans cannot begin a journey on an auspicious date, they will often take a piece of their luggage and move it a little down the road to another house on the auspicious date, so as to begin the journey symbolically on that day.”

As I’m sure many of you already know Sherpa follow Buddhism and the teachings of the Dalai Lama. A Dalai Lama quote comes to mind when I think of Jeanne:

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.

Educational Inspiration

I teach fourth grade at the John D. Runkle School in Brookline, Massachusetts. My class and I are amazed with what you have accomplished and enthralled with your upcoming ascent of Mount Everest. Each day at school, we start by sharing and discussing inspirational and noteworthy news stories that often relate to our yearlong theme of discovery, exploration, and invention. In addition to our study of discovery and exploration, you also epitomize the type of person we refer to as a “Change Seeker”, a person from the past or present who has made positive changes in the world. As is the case with explorers and inventors, we spend time each day talking about these type of individuals as well. Recently, all the students completed their more formal study of this topic by researching a “Change Seeker” and sharing their efforts with the rest of the class. Some of the individuals chosen this year include Charles Darwin, Jackie Robinson, Amelia Earhart, and Jane Goodall. What you’ve achieved and continue to do help us see that we can all be “Change Seekers” in our daily lives.

By following your quest, we hope to learn more about you, exploration, Mount Everest, and how one person can make a difference. We eagerly look forward to reading your daily dispatches, following your progress, and keeping in touch. As a class, we’d also enjoy hearing from others with regard to our topics of study mentioned above or other matters of interest.

True Champions

I was watching the Masters Golf Tournament recently to see Tiger Woods as he tries for another win at this great event. Watching this incredible champion try his best made me think of Jeanne and what a true champion she is.

Wishes from a Kindred Spirit

Email we received from Dave Kinsley last week:

I just want to wish Jeanne good luck on her attempt of Mt.Everest. I have been to Nepal twice, in 1986 and 1993 for treks to Everest and Annapurna. I had a heart-attack and triple-by-pass in 1999 which has curtailed any steep climbing due to my heart damage. I always feel grateful because I was able to do my trekking and am not wishing that I did. I love Nepal and the people. I have sponsored a child through Save the Children since 1987 and was able to visit one of the children on my visit in 1993.

I am retiring from my job,I have worked for Wright Line in Worcester for 31 years, at the end of the year and will have a site on Abebooks selling mountaineering books only. I have been able to establish contacts around the world and have gathered many signed books that I will be selling. I also have 2 photos done by the photographer for the 1953 1st successful expedition of Mt.Everest, Alf Gregory.

I have a personal book that is signed by about 50 of the successful climbers of Everest, including Ed Hillary, Reinhold Messner, and Junko Tabei,the 1st woman to summit the mountain.

If you could forward this to Jeanne, I would appreciate it. When she gets back from her successful climb, I would like to meet her and have her sign my book. I know she will be successful. Above all please come home safely.

Dave Kinsley-Third Pole Mountaineering Books- North Oxford,Ma.

Exotic Hotels and Massage

You may have noticed from Jeanne’s daily dispatch that she is staying in some interesting hotels.
In Bangkok, she stayed at the Federal House and at Yak and Yeti in Kathmadu. She is now at the Panorama Hotel in Nmache. I couldn’t find a picture of this hotel, but I found a link to the town and this image on the right.

While she didn’t tell us where she had her massage, I did a search and there are some pretty lavish places to have a massage in Thailand, and some pretty riske places too. Check out One Stop Bangkok for more about Thai massage.

I’m curious if anyone else has experienced the famous massage parlors and wants to share a story?

And what do you do in your spare time?

Lucky Sevens: Charlton climber aims high, a March 22nd article about Jeanne in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, received a lot of comments from readers.

Jeanne left today for Mt. Everest with a lot of support.