"I can count on one hand the number of people who knew I was doing this as it was happening," DesLauriers says. She pauses. For a two-time freestyle skiing champion - have we not mentioned that? - there's nothing freestyle about the way she speaks. She chooses words carefully. "I didn't want to put my friends and family in a two-year state of fear," she says. "I was also aware that there may come a time that I may choose not to continue if it didn't feel right."

She didn't stop, of course. Indeed, DesLauriers didn't stop anything during her two-and-a-half-year Seven Summits quest. "This wasn't all-consuming," she says. "I went to Bolivia. I climbed and skied during this project." Competitively, even. In 2004 and 2005, DesLauriers won consecutive titles on the women's World Freeskiing Tour. It's likely that you didn't catch those events on TV, because the sport is about as television-friendly as the NHL. Worse, even. In most events, competitors are dropped by helicopter onto unkempt mountainsides and left to carve out their own paths in runs that are a minimum of 2,000 vertical feet. The winner is whoever gets to the bottom with the best combination of solid, mistake-free skiing; a fast time (which contributes to the ability to ski with fluidity and aggressiveness); and a difficult ski line.

DesLauriers might have won a third straight title in 2006 had she not fallen while freeskiing for fun the day before competition started at the February finals. Not realizing that she had suffered a concussion, she tried to ski in the competition anyway but ended up falling again. It was the first fall of her competitive career. "I had just gotten back from Argentina in December, and I was planning for Kilimanjaro in June and Everest in August, and I didn't even know if I wanted to be there," she says. "I wasn't totally focused."