Elsie to Everest- At Age 75
Many seniors choose to celebrate their 75th birthday with a round of golf, dinner our or a poolside vacation. Not Elsie James.
The High River mother of eight, grandmother of 22 and great-grandmother of 23 spent her 75th at Everest base camp in 2009. It's the culmination of a 21-day fundraising trek through the Himalayan Mountains in which she hopes to raise $75,000 to establish a blood bank at a sick kids hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal.
"It's offically called the Trek 4 Kanti Kids, but i call it Granny's Grunt," said James who leaves today for a 31/2-month stinit in Nepal.
In late October, James and six others from Western Canada will begin trekking from Jiri, with plans to arrive at Everest base camp on Nov.11, James' birthday.
"I'm taking balloons, noisemakers, treats and birthday candles, but i'm not sure they'll burn there," the affable James said with a laugh.
It won't be easy getting there. The treak goes across "the grain of the land," up over mountain passes and down through river valleys. The numerous altitude gains (and losses) add up.
"We climb more than the height of Everest," said James, who has two artifical knees. "It's not technically difficult- although some people don't like the suspension bridges - but it's challenging in terms of the energy you expend."
James did trek from Jiri to Everest base camp once before, when she first came to Nepal in 1995. it was supposed to be a once in a lifetime trip for the newly retired banker, then 60, and two friends. Instead James discovered her passion: the mountainous country and its people.
"I've hardly been home since." She returned to nepal the following year and has returned annually ever since.