Famous as the first 8,000-meter peak ever climbed and considerably lower than Everest, Annapurna I seemed a worthy objective for our 1978 American Women's Himalayan Expedition.
Margi, Sylvia Paull, and I hiked into in the Sierra Nevada for a training climb along with women applying to join our Annapurna team.
After a few days of climbing together, we could see whether the applicant was a good fit for our team.
Researching our objective, Annapurna I, 26,500 feet high, I learned the mountain had a worrisome reputation. Of the more than 90 climbers who had tried to climb it, eight had reached the summit, and nine others had died in the attempt.
By the time we left for Katmandu, I was the leader of a team of 12 strong-minded women, each of whom wanted to contribute to our decisions.
Pelted by the monsoon rains, we trudged up muddy paths to chilly, windswept passes; back down to green terraced rice fields, then up once more.
This porter was carrying two loads — or 132 pounds — an amazing burden for a slight man.
Our plan, to teach these Sherpa women English and climbing skills so we could hire them as high altitude porters, did not succeed.
Our high-spirited caravan of climbers, Sherpas, kitchen staff, porters and friends trekked ten days from the town of Pokhara to our basecamp.
After 12 days of trekking, we reached Annapurna North Base Camp at 15,000 feet. The summit of the mountain loomed two vertical miles above us.
We posed for a team photo at Base Camp. (From left, back) Margi Rusmore, Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz, Christy Tews, Piro Kramar, Irene Beardsley Miller, Joan Firey, Annie Whitehouse, and Marie Ashton. (Front) Dyanna Taylor, Vera Watson, Vera Komarkova, Liz Klobusicky, and me.
Dyanna, Marie, and Christy model long underwear donated by a sponsor.
Then we took our Adidas tennis shoe product shot.
Liz and Alison set off, and a few hours later established the route to Camp I at 16,500 feet. They returned exuberant.