Everest peak reached on Soames Hill

It took only two weeks for Hopkins Landing resident Kara McDonnell to climb Mount Everest, and she did it a stone’s throw from her backyard.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I joined,” said McDonnell of her feat. She is the first of about 20 Sunshine Coast residents to complete the “Soames 2 Everest Challenge” – participants must climb Soames Hill 72 times in the month of June to reach the equivalent height of the world’s tallest mountain above sea level.

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McDonnell, who lives near Soames, started the challenge June 4 and summited the equivalent of the 8,848-metre Mount Everest two weeks later. To fit in those metres, McDonnell hiked the hill between four and a dozen times a day. “It’s challenging, but you’re focused on the reasons why you’re doing it,” she said.

Participants are raising money to start a scholarship for School District No. 46 students who have overcome a version of their own Everest to graduate. The group has surpassed its goal of raising $4,000 and is on track to raise a minimum of $5,000, according to Dana Sauer, who is keeping track of funds. On June 19 she reached the summit with her husband, Mark Sauer, a day after McDonnell.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the support coming in, and especially that it’s coming from so many different age groups,” said Dana Sauer of their fundraising efforts. “[It’s] really resonated with people.”

McDonnell said she was inspired by youth facing adversity and also by Dave Nanson, a rugby and soccer coach on the Sunshine Coast who is recovering from a serious head injury. “He’s facing these challenges that he didn’t put in front of him. For me, so what? My legs are tired? What’s the worst that’s going to happen? I’m going to get into shape.”

That fitness will come in handy.

After scaling Soames Hill 72 times, McDonnell decided she wasn’t ready to rest yet. Now she will be aiming to complete 100 summits by June 30.

For those interested in donating, e-transfers can be sent to accountsreceivable@sd46.bc.ca (password Soames if prompted). Mention “Soames” or “Everest” in the description so all funds are properly allocated.

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