Cindy Abbott, a lecturer from Cal State Fullerton, successfully made it to the top of Mt. Everest over the weekend. Abbott suffers from a rare and serious vascular disease, Wegener's Granulomatosis.
Abbott said it took more than 18 hours to reach the summit. She described the experience as "beyond wild." It involved scaling an 80-foot wall at 29,000 feet and crossing a ridge that Abbott said was like "walking on the knife of the world."
Abott spoke with KPCC's Alex Cohen about the moment she reached the summit.
"I looked out and I could see everything," said Abbott. "Everything on the world was below me. I was freezing, my hands were already numb. I said, 'I can’t stand here very long.' It was a surreal experience, but it was so harsh and so hard I had to get out of there I could only stay about 15 minutes."
But that wasn't the end of the difficult journey. Abbott said descending from the mountain top was more dangerous than going up. Her problems started when she reached the ridge on the descent.
"As soon as I hit the wind on the ridge, because it’s a knife edge, I went blind in one eye because the corneas freeze," said Abbott. "I had to finish climbing with one eye completely gone and then on the way down, the other eye started going. So I sort of descended with no finger feelings and blind for most of the mountain on the way down.”
Abbott ended up sustaining some nerve damage to her fingers, but the emergency room doctor at Everest base camp told her she will fully recover.
Abbott said she looks forward to getting back to her regular life and the warm weather.