In Edmond, one woman is turning a dream of climbing the world's highest peak into a reality.
Valari Wedel has been climbing mountains since 2002, but for the past several months she's been training for the ultimate challenge: to climb Mount Everest.
"I decided to quit dreaming about ‘Could I do it?' and just said ‘Yeah, I'm going to try and do it,'" she said.
Mount Everest is the world's tallest mountain, with a 29,029 ft. elevation. It's located in Mahalangur Himal, Himalaya and entices climbers each year. The 52-year-old mother of three grown daughters has travelled to climb many mountains in Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico and several areas of the United States.
"I love that connection with God in creation," Valari said. "It's nothing you'll ever see in normal life ever. It's indescribable, the stars and up above the mountains and the clouds and the colors, the sunsets and the sunrises. To me, that is just a very personal intense realization of why I'm here and who created this place."
Now, she's ready to take on the ultimate challenge of Everest, spending months physically training for the feat, most of it in a stairwell for two to three hours at a time.
"I just go up, and up and up and up, and I just keep doing that and wearing that weight and getting that rhythm, and getting that step, and doing that over and over for an extended amount of time really been valuable in my training," she said.
Despite her training, Wedel says making the summit will not be easy. During the climb, she'll be dealing with freezing temperatures, intense winds, icy terrain and a lack of oxygen due to the high altitude. In fact, more than 200 people have died in their attempt to climb Mount Everest.
"Seeing bodies on the side of the trail is something I'm not really worried about. I've already decided I'm moving past that," she said. "I think what I'm most concerned about and probably what I'm not prepared for is if someone is struggling physically at that moment and knowing I won't be able to help them."
For now, she will keep her eye on the summit, with the goal of reaching it with three items: an Oklahoma Christian University flag (her Alma Mater) a thank you flag she made for her friends and family and her late father's track charm.
"Across the United States, I have a huge network of people praying and thinking about me, and that is a huge blessing," she said. "If I get nothing else out of this trip, I've learned the value of my friends and family."
Wedel left for Mount Everest on Saturday. She will spend the next 30 days at base camp getting used to the conditions, then plans to make the climb in May.
When she returns, she plans to embark in a new adventure and finish nursing school.