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New York to Everest - Topping the top of the world
11:42 a.m. EST Jan 26, 2004
Living in Manhattan, Liz Pace is used to altitude. Manhattan is often dubbed Everest of cities as skyscrapers brush the clouds everywhere. The island is a set for trends, business and culture that shape the world. This top of the world has it own hazards: Total blackouts, terrorists knocking down buildings, and citizens getting electrocuted when stepping on cables in the streets. So why look for thrills elsewhere?

Liz is a typical Manhattanite; born in Malta she fits the bill of 80% New Yorkers - a first generation immigrant. What's less typical is that this Manhattan girl is soon off to climb Everest.

As a young girl, the only sport activities Liz participated in were water-related. Born on an island in Southern Europe, she learned how to swim before she could walk. So how did her path come to snake from Malta over Manhattan to Mount Everest?

Liz left Malta 18 years ago, when she was only 19, and headed for the Midwest in the United States. Eventually, she ended up in Manhattan, four years back. It wasn't until 2001, on a ski trip to France, that Liz fell in love with the mountains. In September that year, she joined a friend's expedition to Kilimanjaro and had her first real taste of climbing. Though she made the summit on September 9th, the trip was bittersweet. Two days later, she learned of the events at the World Trade Center. Both of her sisters worked in Lower Manhattan and the plantation where Liz was staying had only one phone. Travel was suspended and she could not return to New York for another week. It was a scary time. She came back and found her family well, but realized that New York was changed forever.

And so was she. One of the Seven Summits under her belt, her thoughts turned to climbing Everest one day. On her return from Kili, she quickly enrolled in a climbing course on Mount Rainier. By that time, RMI (Rainier Mountaineering Inc) introduced her to Mountain Link, a commercial expedition company that guides climbs to Everest. A guide on Mountain Link suggested a climb on Aconcagua which she summited with them last year. Soon enough, Liz started putting a plan together - two years after discovering the mountains in France, Liz turned her sight on Mount Everest.

She owns the spirit. Lack of funds, the risk of death, nothing deters her: "Raising sponsorship money is a full-time job that I don't have time for. I know I'll be paying this off for the rest of my life, but it's worth it," she says. Liz pays everything herself, with every last cent she's got - and more. Like many Everest climbers, Liz divides life "before and after" Everest. What may be, may be.

"People worry that I might die. So what, I tell them; I'll die happy." Liz and her climbing partner Joe Hughes will be departing for Everest's South Side on March 18th, once again with Mountain Link. If she attains the summit, Liz will become the first person from Malta to scale Everest, and one of the very few Manhattan girls to do so.

With a leave of absence from her job approved only past Thursday, the reality is setting in. Since in NY, Liz has been working as Executive Assistant to the CFO of a worldwide communications company. “She has been wonderful and extremely supportive of my adventures,” Liz says of her boss.

Her mother, father and four sisters (including her twin) are supportive too, but scared. "They don't really understand why I do what I do? But they're getting used to it."

Several New Jersey schools will be following the climbing progress. Joe is working with seven or eight schools who will log on to the Internet to follow the action. Liz and Joe have started a non profit organization (Sedona Cares) through which “we are teaching children, by example to establish and realize goals for success and good health in their youth and throughout their lives. Dreams to Reality!” Check details on Sedonafitness.com.

Image: Liz Pace visiting ExplorersWeb office in New York City before heading off to Everest.

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