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updated: 1/19/2011 1:32 PM

Benet alum reflects on trek up Mount Kilimanjaro

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  • Teri Goudie, center, and her friends, Lisa Stafford, left, and Patty Orler, all of Hinsdale, climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. They reached the top Sept. 24, 2010.

      Teri Goudie, center, and her friends, Lisa Stafford, left, and Patty Orler, all of Hinsdale, climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. They reached the top Sept. 24, 2010.
    Courtesy of Teri Goudie

  • Benet Academy graduate Teri Goudie follows her climbing group up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The experience will be part of her presentation to the school's upcoming Mother Daughter Luncheon.

      Benet Academy graduate Teri Goudie follows her climbing group up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The experience will be part of her presentation to the school's upcoming Mother Daughter Luncheon.
    Courtesy of Teri Goudie

  • When she reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Teri Goudie placed a medal of St. Teresa of Avila.

      When she reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Teri Goudie placed a medal of St. Teresa of Avila.
    Courtesy of Teri Goudie

 
 

Principles that Teri Goudie learned at Lisle's Benet Academy brought her to Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last September.

As a Benet alum and proud parent of five Benet graduates, Goudie, whose maiden name is Tausk, will speak at the Benet Mother and Daughter Luncheon Jan. 30 in Lisle. She will share her remarkable feat of reaching the highest point in Africa.

"There are three things I learned at Benet that helped me get to (the top of) the mountain and that I carry with me always," Goudie said. "First, you have to believe in yourself -- no one got me to the top of that mountain but Teri. Second, you have to learn the power of hard work and perseverance. And, third, is to believe in God."

Goudie's seven-day journey on the mountain was one measured in moments. Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 19,330 feet in a range on the northern border of Tanzania overlooking Kenya and roughly 200 miles south of the equator.

The trip was scheduled for the African dry season, when a full moon could light the last night's exhausting midnight ascent to the summit.

"Every day was as strenuous as running a half-marathon," Goudie said of the rocky and relentless uphill inclines. "When it was hardest, I could not get the oxygen I needed. For the last hour and a half of my climb, I literally took two steps and then stopped to breath for 30 seconds before taking another couple steps."

Goudie was sure she could make it, but it called for a lot of patience and prayer.

"Trust in yourself, take the next step and glorious things can happen," she said.

"When I got to the summit, the sun was rising and I immediately dropped to my knees without even thinking about it," Goudie said. "I started to pray because it was such a glorious moment. It was in my heart and soul to be as close to God as then."

Goudie's glorious moment at the summit -- the exact second of reaching a goal so challenging that only extreme dedication could have achieved it -- deserved a special and sacred moment.

The confidence Goudie mustered, she nurtured by running marathons, triathlons and a particularly difficult half-ironman race in intense heat.

"You must be in tremendous shape to tackle the mountain," Goudie said. "Every day they would take our oxygen levels two or three times, and if your oxygen levels were not sufficient, you left."

A woman who enjoys testing her limits, Goudie's adventures before trekking Mount Kilimanjaro included sky diving and scuba diving, but the mountain, without doubt, was her biggest challenge.

"We encountered huge variations in temperatures," the self-defined outdoorswoman said. "The day's weather would start at 50 degrees, and if clouds came in it could drop to 30 degrees in moments."

Sleeping with no light in a small tent with temperatures at 15 to 20 degrees became the norm.

"You go to bed by 7 p.m. in three to four layers of clothing and zip yourself into your sleeping bag," Goudie said. "Each day we did 2,000 feet of a lot of rock climbing, which was much more strenuous than I thought it would be."

Goudie joined two Hinsdale friends, Lisa Stafford and Patty Orler, to plan their adventure. They researched the proper layering of different fabrics to maximize warmth and comfort. The threesome chose the Machame Route, a popular, arduous, scenic trail of seven days, because the longer route gave them time to acclimate to the atmosphere and afforded them the best chance to accomplish their goal.

Mental preparation and inspiration came from reading "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, and "Three Cups of Tea" and "Turning Stones into Schools" by Greg Mortenson.

"Thirteen years ago when I did my first marathon, I trained with Team-in-Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society," Goudie said. "It really motivates you to know you are benefiting others."

This time Goudie, a communications coach and former ABC News TV producer, is raising money and awareness for Oak Brook-based Opportunity International and The Janada L. Batchelor Fund.

"Knowing that we were raising money that would make a lifelong difference to women in Africa really gave us the boost we needed to get over any anxiety," Goudie said.

Opportunity International provides small business loans, savings, insurance and training to more than 2 million people in developing countries.

The charity makes loans for as little as $60 accompanied with support and counsel to African women living in poverty so they may start or expand a business and become self-sufficient. For details, check out opportunity.org.

The Janada L. Batchelor Foundation is a nonprofit group working to build centers in East Africa where orphaned and widowed women and girls will receive education, health care and safety. Details are at jbfc-online.org.

The journey down the mountain had its own scary moments.

"You face a demanding workout in the steep scree, which is loose rock, and you almost have to ski through it," Goudie said. "The best moments are actually in the middle when you encounter a switchback. A switchback is a cut in the mountain so that for just a few seconds you can walk on level ground and catch your breath. Those moments really are the sweetest of all."

Goudie will make that point when she speaks to mothers and daughters at Benet Academy.

"Perhaps that is the lesson I bring home from Kili," Goudie said. "As an analogy of life: We all have those difficult mountains to climb … illness, death, bankruptcy. We also all have moments where we let loose a little bit too much and we have to rein it back in.

"But what we don't always appreciate enough are the switchbacks, where everything is going as it should be, and those really are the best moments. Those are the moments we want to enjoy."

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at jgbroz@yahoo.com.

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