Turning back from her lifelong dream of reaching the top of the world’s highest peak had at least one major advantage for Memorial’s resident mountaineer.
“Every decision has gains and losses,” said Dr. TA Loeffler, a professor in the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, who was in the midst of a gruelling attempt to reach Mount Everest last month when she was forced to return.
“The decision to end my climb when I did brought me at least one gain. It meant I was home for my daughter’s convocation from the bachelor of commerce (co-operative) program,” she said.
“Being there on the stage to see her walk across and receive her degree was better than any summit.”
Spoken like a true sport.
In spite of months of both physical and mental training, Dr. Loeffler was forced to turn back at least this time on her attempt to reach the world’s tallest peak.
Part way through her climb, she developed bronchitis and was laid up for several days. Then, if that weren’t enough, she came down with giardia, better known as beaver fever. It hit her hard and she dropped an astonishing 25 pounds. All that forced her to turn back.
“I feel it was an amazing experience to live out a lifelong dream,” she said of her attempt. “The amount of growth that was needed to pull off getting there was an Everest in itself and I celebrate that.”
Dr. Loeffler’s coined her journey Everest 007. Her mission may have been to reach the top, but she had an even greater objective: to inspire others to get more physically active. And that, she did.
Prior to leaving for Everest in March, Dr. Loeffler spoke to 10,000 students from around the province encouraging them to get active and reach for their own dreams. She also inspired hundreds of employees to become more active. During the month of February, employees were encouraged to take stairs instead of elevators while at work. Participants were challenged to walk the number of stairs equivalent to reaching the top of Everest.
“I take solace in knowing the mission of Everest-007 was fulfilled,” Dr. Loeffler noted. “I wanted to inspire kids to get more physically active and to follow their dreams and there was much evidence that this occurred.”
Dr. Loeffler said she’s grateful for the amount of support she received for her voyage, from students and staff members to faculty and Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial.
“I couldn’t have done it without such a supportive community behind me,” she added.
Meanwhile, the consummate adventurer, Dr. Loeffler isn’t promising any down time. She’ll spend this summer teaching, but is already contemplating more worldly quests.
“Not sure what’s next for me,” she said. “I’m dreaming about the North Pole, Mount Vinson, and perhaps another go at Everest. I don’t think of the climb as failed, only that I didn’t get to climb as high as I wished.”