The Rooftop of Europe

Elbrus is the highest mountain on the European continent, standing at 18,541 feet above level, and is the third of the seven summits that your flags will travel to the top of. This was a whirlwind trip. . . We flew into Moscow, and quickly jumped on a second plane which took us two hours south of Moscow, near Georgia. From there we took a three hour van ride to the base of the Caucasus mountains, a rather small mountain range with huge, rocky, intimidating peaks, many well over 15,000 feet. 

Prayer flags on Mt Elbrus.

Upon arriving in the Caucasus mountain we could not see Mt Elbrus due to the poor weather conditions, that first day in the mountain range we pushed forward to Basecamp, at nearly 12,000 feet. There, we slept in large barrels that sleep seven people (the number on our team), and they even have electricity, very unique. From basecamp we went on two acclimatization hikes up to about 16,000 feet. After two nights at Basecamp we felt ready to tackle the summit.

A view of the Base camp, after an acclimatization hike. 
The summit attempt started at 3am, we didn't sleep that well and waking up at 3 was not too hard. We put on our gear, crampons, ice picks, severe weather clothing and heading out into the subzero weather with up to 50 mile an hour winds. The climb was steep and at times we felt like we were climbing straight up the mountain. We could barely catch our breath due to the limited availability of oxygen. Our pace was slow and steady. One of our team members got severe altitude sickness with nausea and vomiting, however was able to push on. After 10 hours of hiking, we made it to the top. We spent a minute or two at the top, but due to the pounding wind and cold temperatures we quickly got off and back down the mountain. Your flags made it to the Top!! Having your flags make it to seven of the hardest places in the world as a symbol of our commitment to you and all you have gone through. We want each thread that represents a thought of health, strength and well being in your behalf to be symbolized in the remote corners of this planet.

RadiatingHope climbers at the top of Mt Elbrus!! 

Deep into the Arctic

Larry on his dog sled, deep in the Arctic, draped with prayer flags.

Not only have your flags traveled to the top of mountains around the world, but they have also traveled to some of the most desolate and difficult places to get to on earth, such as the deep Arctic tundra. The cancer journey is not easy, and we want these flags to be a symbol of your journey. Our cofounder, Larry Daugherty MD, carried your flags to the deep arctic with a dogsled team. Larry has wanted to race a dog sled in the deep snow of the Arctic since he was a child. Now living in Florida and working at the Mayo Clinic as an oncology doctor, this dream seemed liked it would never come true. While attending an international conference, he chanced upon a tiny ad from a European cold-weather gear maker Fjällräven. The ad invited people to apply for a highly competitive opportunity to lead a dog sled team into the arctic. Well. . . He won the contest that puts him at the head of a team of huskies.
Larry traveled more than 185 miles across the Arctic tundra between Signaldalen, Norway, and Jukkasjärvi, Swedish Lapland. He was on of 20 people who amde the journey, and was the first American who has invited to join the Fjällräven Polar team. He traveled over tundra, mountain forests and frozen lakes. He camped under the stars, guided by the Northern Lights.
Larry felt decorated his dog sled with many of your flags and was inspired to push forward from all your many stories. We honor you all on this journey!!!!

The Arctic Tundra. . .

Chukkung Ri, Nepal

Kristin Sumbot, a cancer survivor and Radiating Hope representative, took on the Himalayas, taking your flags to new heights! She participated with Above and Beyond Cancer, a nonprofit out of Iowa, in her own words. . .

"Chukkung Ri sits at 18,238 feet in the Everest, Khumbu region of Nepal. We all set out together and then slowly spread out at our different paces. I had found myself walking alone, and the physicality of the hike was getting the better of me. I was struggling to catch my breath in the harsh mountain wind. I wanted to turn back. But I remember thinking I am not a quitter! If I were, then I wouldn’t be here. If I could survive cancer and high dose chemotherapy, then I could do this! The mountains surrounding us were like majestic sleeping giants.  resonated the whole valley with a quiet reverence. As I reached the group, our leader, Dr. Demming, greeted me with a big hug saying, “You are so strong, I am so proud of you.”

As I gazed out into the mountain valley a wave of self recognition hit me. I had come full circle with having cancer. I used to feel that cancer had made me a stranger to myself. After cancer I had a glimpse of who I had become; strong, confident, seeing life in a new way. But I still had insecurities. Living a full life was something that I wanted and pursued. However the traumatic scars left behind from cancer made it hard for me to do so The reward of completing the physical challenge of Chukkung Ri disproved my doubts, and erased those insecurities.

I was looking out at who I had become and the life that I could live if I could embrace the trials and adventure that come with it. Cancer had closed all the right doors and pointed me in the direction of how I wanted to live life. And it does feel like you are on top of the world." -Kristin Sumbot