TA Loeffler recovering from mountain sickness after Everest airlift

A St. John's adventurer and university professor says it's too soon to say if she'll attempt to climb Mount Everest for a fourth time after being airlifted from the famous mountain earlier this month.

St. John's mountaineer not sure if she'll make 4th attempt

T-A Loeffler is out of hospital and back home. The long-time adventurist made her third attempt for Everest but she became sick last week and had to call the climb off. 4:54

A St. John's adventurer and university professor says it's too soon to say if she'll attempt to climb Mount Everest for a fourth time after being airlifted from the famous mountain earlier this month.

"It's a huge fundraising and a huge training effort so I would peg it at about 50 per cent [likelihood] at this point," TA Loeffler told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show

Loeffler, who has climbed "six and four-fifths" of the world's seven tallest summits, said this was the first time she's experienced such severe mountain sickness. 

"Whenever you don't feel good in the mountains, the answer is down," she said. 

"When I had to give up my pack when I was struggling, I knew that was hint number one."

Loeffler said the sickness came on after she and her team climbed to camp three, one camp away from the summit. 

The illness, she said, was a combination of "high-altitude pulmonary edema, which is swelling in your lungs, and maybe a little [high-altitude cerebral edema] which is a little swelling in your brain." 

The most dangerous part 

It was on her way back to base camp on May 8 that Loeffler said the team arranged to have an air ambulance "pluck" her off the mountain. 

"I realized that I didn't want my teammates to have to help me through the ice fall — that's the most dangerous thing on the south route — and I was moving so slowly, so we elected to call for some help to get me out," she said. 

The Khumbu Icefall is a steep glacier full of deep crevasses. 

Loeffler estimated it takes climbers six to eight hours to pass through the treacherous area, all the while keeping an eye out for falling ice or a potential avalanche. 

"It can go south very quickly so it's one that we take very seriously and it can come out of the blue."

'Oxygen drunk'

Loeffler said she didn't feel "that bad" when she first arrived at the hospital in Kathmandu. She described feeling "almost oxygen drunk" once she'd reached a lower altitude. 

"But then once I got out of the hospital, I think that's when the exhaustion and the physical toll hit more," she said. 

Loeffler said she "kept holding out hope" she'd be able to return to her team and finish the climb, but soon learned that the team had progressed faster than anticipated and meeting up wouldn't be possible. 

The climber recorded her expedition in an online blog, posted audio entries from base camp and even fielded questions from students back home. 

"It's an amazing experience. I love taking students and teachers and the whole province with me."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show