CSU Fullerton lecturer prepares for Mt. Everest summit attempt

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Courtesy of Cindy Abbott

Cal State Fullerton lecturer Cindy Abbott climbs through the Khumbu Icefall.

Cal State Fullerton lecturer Cindy Abbott has been in Nepal for the last month getting used to the altitude. Soon she will begin her attempt to climb to the summit of Mt. Everest.

(Audio: Cindy Abbott spoke to KPCC's Alex Cohen from the Mount Everest base camp.)

Abbott and her team are waiting at base camp for the weather to clear before beginning their summit attempt. She said the jet stream has moved in on Everest, creating strong winds and dangerous conditions on the mountain.

"The tents are being destroyed," said Abbott. "And we’re having to collapse them trying to save them."

Abbott is climbing Everest to raise awareness of rare diseases like the one from which she suffers, Wegener's Granulomatosis, It's a disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. The disease has also damaged Abbott's eyesight, making her functionally blind in one eye.

"I’m a bit slower than the other climbers because I have to really evaluate each step, " said Abbott. "Because one step on the icefall where we are could be the wrong step. And then I had a little trouble up high but I’m working with a high altitude researching doctor that’s here at base camp.”

The "icefall" Abbott refers to is the "Khumbu Icefall," a dangerous stage of the climb. This section also provided Abbott with a nervous, but ultimately inspirational, moment. She and her team were heading down the icefall when she came upon another team of climbers going the opposite direction.

"All of a sudden we had climbers (on) both sides of an eight-inch cliff with a 100-foot icefall that could collapse in an abyss on the other side," said Abbott.

Abott said the leader of the other team stopped instead of "bullying his way through." Each team took time to figure out how to safely cross the icefall. Abbott said she was impressed by his politeness in a deadly situation.

"It just goes to show you that humans, no matter what, really do care for each other," said Abbott.

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