All-woman Everest team turns back

Sunday, May 19, 2002

TACOMA, Wash. -- The five Americans who hoped to become the first all-woman team to climb Mount Everest were forced to turn back just short of the summit.

Health problems and weather forced the women to turn around early Saturday, just 285 feet from the summit. Minutes earlier, expedition leader Eric Simonson of International Mountain Guides had reported that everything was fine, said his wife, Erin, business manager for the trek.

"Everything was going beautifully," she told The News Tribune of Tacoma. "Twenty minutes later, I'm getting this distress call."

Midge Cross, a 58-year-old grandmother, had turned back Friday. Cross, who would have been the oldest woman to scale Everest, had complained earlier in the week of fatigue.

Alison Levine, Kim Clark, Lynn Prebble and Jody Thompson made the final summit push. The group ran into problems about 6:40 a.m. Nepal time, when Levine collapsed from exhaustion and the effects of altitude, Erin Simonson said.

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