You want to know how sane she is? Consider that when she was on the Lhotse Face, she was the most afraid she'd ever been in her life. DesLauriers kept telling herself out loud, as she made repeated turns - one must not barrel straight down a sheet of ice on a 50-degree slope, after all - to make the maneuver "like your life depends on it." She told her husband, Rob, who was skiing alongside her (he was a member of the climbing/skiing team that had made the climb to the summit) that she didn't want to die. "Good," he said, and then he skied away.
Like the Lhotse Face, Vinson Massif can also be a scary place, one that doesn't exactly make sense. The 16,864-foot-high mountain stands, literally, at the end of the world - Antarctica - on an unforgiving, moonlike terrain, where temperatures can suddenly plunge to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It's the hardest of the Seven Summits to reach. Flights must be reserved months in advance, and to get there, visitors must pony up for a $250,000 personal insurance policy. It's required in order to make the trip from the tip of Chile to Antarctica.
In December 2005, DesLauriers and her team made that trip. Flynn happened to be making his own trip, as well, with a group of his own - but his team only intended to climb up and back down Vinson Massif. "I did it the easy way," he says. Despite the danger, Flynn says, the DesLauriers team seemed relaxed. "I thought what they were trying to do was awesome," he says. "But they got trapped up there."