Mt Shasta Herald ~ September 20, 2006
By Paul Boerger
Mount Shastan Laurie Bagley is one of only eight American women to summit Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 29,035 feet on the border between Nepal and China. She also stands among only couple of thousand people of all sexes to have climbed the mountain out of the world’s billions.
Bagley reached the top on May 25th of this year and she brought a presentation of the journey to the Kenneth Ford Theater at College of the Siskiyous September 16th. The show included still pictures, video and music with Bagley narrating sections from the stage.
Several hundred attendees showed their appreciation by giving Bagley hearty applause for her accomplishment. The show was a fundraiser for Diane Kirwin’s efforts to help the poor in India. Bagley also dedicated a portion of the funds she raised for the climb to Kirwin’s organization, the non-profit Kirwin International Relief Foundation, a Registered Indian Charitable Trust Bodhgaya. Kirwin took the stage briefly before the show, thanking Bagley for her efforts in supporting her work.
“I’ve seen cleft palates smile and club feet run,” Kirwin said. Bagley recounted the effort it took to climb the mountain, surpassing any other physical endeavor she had attempted. Bagley has been involved in Extreme Sports.
“The first time I saw the mountain all I could think of is it’s so big,” Bagley said. “At just over 20,000 feet, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I couldn’t breathe. Packs felt twice as big as they really were. The waiting for a weather window at high camps also took its toll. Waiting was one of the bigger challenges. I wasn’t used to it,” Bagley said. “At one point I thought, all I have to do is get in a truck and go home.”
But she kept going and her mantra became “keep moving.”
“One of the hardest legs was to Camp 2. I told myself to take it one step at a time, stay in the moment and move forward. Keep moving,” Bagley said. Bagley said the summit push from Camp 3 was a “straight 36 hour shot,” but that it was the way down that was the most difficult.
“We had climbed up in the dark. On the way down I saw how steep and treacherous it was,” Bagley said. “Keep moving I told myself. Get down. Get lower.”
The descent also put in perspective the mountain’s dangers as she passed the body of a climber, David Sharpe, who had just died and another climber in distress who would also die.
“I had to step over David Sharpe by myself. I told myself to keep moving,” Bagley said.
The picture of Sharpe laying face down alone in a snow gully brought a still hush to the auditorium. Bagley said of her descent to advanced base camp where she finally felt safe since the summit that, “Angels were helping me out during that time.”
“I was incredibly blessed. The powers that be knew death wasn’t the outcome for me,” Bagley said.
“I can go on to make more of a difference.”
Bagley ended the show with a quote from George Lee Mallory, an early Everest climber who died in 1924 attempting the mountain. In response to a question as to why climb the mountain he said it was for “sheer joy. And joy after all is the end of life,” Mallory said.
Bagley is available to show the presentation to groups and organizations.