Climbing to the Top of the World with Multiple Sclerosis

Mt. Aconcagua 22,841 ft., South America, 2000
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It's the last mountain after a lifetime of obstacles: Some that are actual mountains, another that's an incurable disease.

Lori Schneider is hoping to become the first woman with multiple sclerosis to ever defeat Mt. Everest.

She's seen the world from some of its highest places—six of the "Seven Summits"

"What that means is I’m trying to climb the highest peaks on each continent,” Schneider says. “I've finished six continents already. I just got back from Antarctica."

But, Schneider saved the best for last.

"I’m on my way to complete the grand daddy of them all—Mt. Everest in Nepal, Asia at 29,035 feet," she says.

It’s a trip that will take two months time. It’s one she's spent many months preparing for right in her Bayfield backyard. Schneider made daily hikes up a local ski hill with a 50 pound backpack. She propped a ladder against a tree to practice in her boots, then placed it across bales to prep for the large crevasses on the mountain. Her intense workouts can almost make you forget Lori has MS.

"When I got diagnosed back ten years ago I panicked," Schneider says.

She says she woke up one morning and half her body was numb and Lori herself felt numb knowing multiple sclerosis would affect her central nervous system. It commonly affects balance, walking and coordination.

"I went into fear mode. I left my life. I ran away," Schneider says.

But, she ended up running toward her favorite places—the mountains.

"Through the mountain climbing, I’ve really taken back my life and my power," Schneider says.

"She's following through with her dreams and really she's someone to look up to for sure with her message to others to move beyond their limitations," Jim Ramsdell says.

Schneider says her goal is to "help people to realize that their life isn't over when they're diagnosed with something like MS."

It’s just a little more inspiration for a woman reaching for the top of the world, determined to control her body, her life and her fate.

Lori leaves Friday for Nepal. Her group hopes to reach the summit by mid May.

As for how MS actually affects her climbing ability, Lori says it doesn't. She says her MS has been symptom free for several years and she thinks she's stronger now than when she was first diagnosed.


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