As One Chapter Ends, The Next One Begins
The Aftermath – First Quarter 2019
While I write this, I am sitting on a plane with my parents to Ireland — my Christmas and 50th birthday presents to them. Considering it has started out to be the holiday from Hell with 48 hours of travel (aka delays and cancellations, thanks British Airways) and just now getting on to the final stretch to Dublin, I have had plenty of time to reflect on the last couple of months. And probably need a Guinness.
The outpour of love and support while David and I battled the altitude and elements was amazing. The highs, the lows, and all of the memories made will forever be near and dear to my heart. We summited and made history. However, that is not the most important part. We became better people because of our efforts and the people we met along the way. The nonprofit Merging Vets and Players was the beneficiary of the Aconcagua climb and I am so proud to say that The Kirstie Ennis Foundation was able to donate $10,000 to them. We are fulfilling our mission. We are financially supporting deserving nonprofits who are committed to improving the quality of life of individuals and families. WE ARE PROVIDING EDUCATION, OPPORTUNITY, AND HEALING.
After the climb, I had several scheduled speaking engagements and thanks to those organizations (especially 3M, where we received several thousand dollars in individual donations — thank YOU) we were able to give away two smaller donations for our first quarter’s grant application cycle. Equinox Ranch submitted a request for facility accessibility renovation, and we were able to give $5000 for their project. Warriors Never Give Up submitted a request for recreational therapy programming, and we were able to give $1000 to support veterans in the outdoors.
Admittedly, running a nonprofit has been terrifying. There is so much to stress about and juggle —it truly is a full-time unpaid job on top of my other full-time jobs, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I KNOW we are making a difference. In the last six months, we have given over $35,000 in support! And, yes, I am wearing a massive smile as I type that. We are small, but we are mighty. For a tiny nonprofit organized in summer 2018, we are making an impact; a huge one at that. To the supporters, family, friends, readers, and volunteers, I can never adequately express my appreciation for you. YOU are apart of this journey and your support is making this idea of improving the world and creating community, a reality.
This Is Just The Start – Second Quarter 2019
We weren’t messing around with the start of this quarter. I have worked really hard to be able to make climbing Mount Everest become a reality. Hundreds of hours of hustling, dozens of hours of speaking engagements, and breaking my back to share my vision and passion with others. It has been far from easy — but it’s happening. I have already started my gear checks and finalizing a number of aspects of the ‘to-do’ list, but it still hasn’t really phased me that I am less than a week out from heading to Nepal. Ive sifted through all of my notes and “shoulda, coulda, woulda” lists from previous climbs and have chipped away at modifications to systems and prosthetics. But I know the moment I get on the plane is when my mind and heart will start to race.
Ive been asked a thousand times, “Are you ready, are you nervous?” Part of me is nervous, but not out of fear, more so the thought of failure; the fear of the thought of having to go through all of this (again) to make it happen again. I am not nervous for injuries or worse. I am nervous that there will be a repeat of Denali and the threat of another “spin”. Even though weather and natural disaster are out of my control, my mind is heavy with the thoughts of how hard I have worked for this — physically, mentally, emotionally, and even financially. I’ve been selfish and put my goals ahead of family time, and Lord knows they sacrifice and stress more than anyone to watch me chase my dream.
Each of the seven summits that I’ve completed or attempted have taught me valuable lessons: Kilimanjaro (Africa) – endurance, Carstenzs (Oceania) — technical climbing, Denali (North America) — glacier travel and winter camping, Elbrus (Europe) — patience for me, the mountain, and fellow climbers, and Aconcagua (South America) — life at altitude. Everest is going to be the pinnacle of all of it. It is a culmination of all of my hard work and effort over the last couple of years. It is going to test me in ways that I never thought possible, but I will remind myself of everything else that I have endured on the mountain to get to that very point.
On Aconcagua, I walked and day dreamed about the things that I would encounter on Everest. I had flashbacks to the first time I saw Everest with my dear friend Hayley Webb on our Nepal EBC trek, when I just stood there and cried. Everest has a presence that is incomparable to anything I have ever experienced; it towers over you and holds you, to remind you just how small you really are and that your problems don’t matter in the “real” world. She humbles you and terrifies you all the same as she reminds you that the moment you misstep, you will die. And she doesn’t care if you die.
I am flooded with emotions when I think about stepping off for the first time from base camp and into the the Khumbu ice fall (the first stretch and maneuver up the mountain). I know I will struggle, I know I will question this goal, and I know I will find myself in moments of fear and frustration. But I need this. I’ve worked so hard for this. I need to prove to myself that I am capable. I am of sound mind, body, and spirit. I was injured, but I am no longer broken. There’s nothing in this world that can take the fight out of me.
Everest will have the final say, but I will give her all that I have — out of respect for her, but also out of respect for myself.