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Whistler climber reaches summit for Alzheimer’s

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Whistler’s Sue Oakey has safely reached the summit of a mountain in Nepal with her team of climbers for charity.

This is her second mountain climb this year fund-raising for the Ascent for Alzheimer’s campaign.

Oakey, reached the top of Gokyo Ri (17,800 feet) Tuesday, Oct. 30 with 10 other climbers form the Lower Mainland.

The team set out from Vancouver Oct. 18 heading for the Khumbu and Sagarmatha National Park. The Khumbu is the home of the Sherpas, Everest and four out of the 10 highest mountains in the world.

It took over a week for the climbers to make their way from Kathmandu, which Oakey described as "intoxicating," to Machhermo, the final stop before the ascent of Gokyo Ri began in earnest.

"It is absolutely breathtaking to be among the biggest mountains of the world and to feel so small and so much part of something so magical and huge at the same time," said Oakey as she prepared for the final climb Oct. 28.

Oakey’s inspiration for guiding the charity climbs was her grandfather.

"The last time I saw him, he didn’t recognize me," said Oakey.

"I felt a deep sadness that this once energetic man who played with us was now just a shell."

Oakey and husband Jim Haberl were the first guides on the 1998 Ascent for Alzheimer’s.

In April 1999 Haberl was killed in an avalanche in Alaska, but Oakey decided to continue her climbing and involvement with the Alzheimer Society, "with the help of Jim’s spirit."

This is the first time a group has been to Nepal. Previously climbers for Alzheimers have tackled African mountains. Oakey led a successful ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro last August.

Each team member pays their own expenses and has made a commitment to raise $10,000 each.

Since the climbs began three years ago three quarters of a million dollars has been raised.

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