This week, a team of trekkers will embark on a three-week trip to the Mt. Everest base camp in Nepal accompanied by Pippa Blake — an outdoor enthusiast who has had limited mobility since she was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 16 years ago.
Blake will be taken to base camp using a TrailRider, a single-wheeled electrical device that can be pushed and pulled through all types of terrain.
Volunteers from the Rise Above Barriers Society will help to get Blake to the South Base Camp at 17,600 feet (5,360 metres), blazing the way for other disabled visitors and raising awareness of barriers to people with various disabilities. However, it’s Blake’s two sons — Whistler’s Ollie Blake and Jordan Blake who will be pushing the hardest for the team.
There’s no question that the Blakes are up to the challenge. Since she was diagnosed with MS, Pippa has skydived, sailed, and been taken on safari.
Jasper Blake won Ironman Canada in 2006, and Ollie Blake — a Whistler ski coach — placed 16 th in his first ever Ironman this past August — without even competing in a regular length triathlon. Whistler’s Kristina Rody, Ollie’s partner, is one of Canada’s leading marathon runners and is also part of the trip.
“It has been a dream of the boys to take their mom (to base camp) and finally they are getting their chance,” wrote Rody, using a broken keyboard at an Internet café in Nepal.
“It is going to be quite the challenge, already spending the day in Katmandu. I am not sure how she is going to get around, but we will figure it out — she is pretty adaptable.”
The Rise Above Barriers group did a few practice climbs with Pippa to try out the equipment and figure out the logistics of the three-week trip to base camp. One climb was in the Rockies near Lake Louise, and the other was up to Garibaldi Lake.
According to the Rise Above Barriers website, the trip to base camp will accomplish several goals:
• To leave a blueprint of the journey to assist those who come next.
• To purchase a Black Diamond model of the TrailRider to donate to Recreation Integration Victoria.
• To raise awareness about accessibility for those living with disabilities.
• To raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.
• To motivate others with disabilities to pursue similar outdoor adventures.
The team will include about 15 members, including Pippa’s dog D’Arcy, plus two sherpa guides from www.khumbuadventures.com . The group includes everyone from experienced mountaineers to friends of the family with outdoor experience.
The expedition will leave on Nov. 2 and return on Nov. 22.
Updates on the trip will be posted online as often as possible at www.riseabovebarriers.com , and people can make a donation to the project on the website.