No mountain high enough
Climber compares Everest climb to life’s journey

1st Lt. Erin Dorrance
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Stacy Allison uses her 29,028-foot trek to Mount Everest’s summit as a metaphor to life’s challenges.

 Mrs. Allison was the first U.S. woman to climb Everest, and the seventh woman in the world to do so. She spoke April 3 about what her experience taught her to a packed room at the Ramstein Enlisted Club.  
The Oregon native traveled to Ramstein on her Armed Forces Entertainment tour of nine bases. She chose to do the tour because several employees at her general contracting company have children serving in Iraq and she wanted to do something for the military community, she said.  
The audience at the club was amazed when Mrs. Allison explained how her small team of climbers raised half a million dollars for the 1988 climb up Everest. The team, which trained for two and a half years, brought 460 boxes of food and equipment and hiked 125 miles just to arrive at the base of Everest, a summit that separates Nepal and Tibet.

Once the team arrived at base camp, 17,600 feet below the foot of the world’s largest mountain, they heard loud explosions every 15 to 20 minutes. When they looked up, they saw Earth-pounding avalanches crashing down. For this reason, successful Everest climbers only hike at night when the snow is more solidly frozen and the sun is not melting the shifting snow.  

With two miles of safety line, several eight-foot aluminum ladders used to cross crevasses and hundreds of pounds of gear and food, the team began their 29-day trek to the top of Everest. On Sept. 29, 1988, Mrs. Allison made it, and achieved every climber’s ultimate goal.

When Mrs. Allison was asked to use one word to describe herself, she took two: “goal oriented.”

***image2***Anyone who has read Mrs. Allison’s books will not be surprised by her response as she actually climbed Everest twice, only making it to the top once. She didn’t summit Everest the first time because the worst storm in 40 years moved in and trapped her team in a snow cave at 23,500 feet for five days.

Turning back was the hardest thing she has ever had to do, she said. But, she kept her goal and returned to achieve it in 1988.  

Mrs. Allison survives tough times, like being caught in a snow storm just 5,500 feet below the top of Everest, with humor. She said it is always important to avoid speaking negatively and that can be done with humor.
During her hike up Everest, Mrs. Allison’s team stuck 125 pink lawn flamingoes along their hike to the top.  

“No matter how cold your feet were or how badly your legs were burning from the hike, you couldn’t help but crack a smile when you walked by the flamingoes on the mountain,” she said.  

Making her teammates laugh is important as Mrs. Allison believes that when you help others achieve their goals, you will achieve yours, she said. Admitting she had learned about teamwork the hard way, Mrs. Allison recalls her first attempt up Mount Everest.

“I was so angry that we had to turn around when we were so close to the top,” she said. “I wanted to reach the top so badly that I was willing to put my teammates into danger.”  

Mrs. Allison said it took strength and courage to climb the mountain; however, it took strength, courage and wisdom to turn around.

Almost 20 years after her historic climb, Mrs. Allison takes the lessons she learned from Everest’s treks and applies them to her life. She wants to continue climbing mountains once her two sons are grown.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Allison’s legendary hike will be remembered through Nike commercials, self-authored books and, even in the word problem, that includes her picture, in her son’s sixth-grade class math book.  

Stacy Allison’s tips to the top:
1. Have a clear personal vision. It will direct, motivate and give you the strength to persevere.
2. Dream big. Lofty goals are the foundation of great accomplishments.
3. Be a team player. When you think beyond yourself to the team, your chance of success increases.
4. Lighten up! When a situation gets intense, laughter or quiet humor releases tension. And, when you laugh, you relax and become more creative and effective.
5. Drink tea with others. Don’t get so caught up in the busy-ness of business that there is no time to build relationships. Professional relationships are built by sitting down and listening.
6. Anticipate change. Ignorance is not bliss. Not on a mountain, and not in business. Things change, so stay alert, examine how you do things and educate yourself.
7. Stay focused. There are distractions everywhere. Focus on what  you can control and what will help propel you toward your goal.
8. Think beyond the top. The top is the most vulnerable place to be because it is so tempting to rest there. But you must turn around, come back down and set new goals.