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After Beating Cancer, She Climbs Everest with Mother

For climbers, Mount Everest is the ultimate test. But not for a mother and daughter from Oklahoma, who have already conquered something much tougher.

Valari and Jess Wedel hope to become the first American mother-daughter team to reach the world's highest peak. CBS News spoke with them via Zoom from Everest base camp, which has an elevation of 17,600 feet.

Jess Wedel said the trip wasn't solely about getting to the summit. "The possibility exists that we can get there and that would be amazing," she said. "But if we're not enjoying every single moment along the way, then we've missed the point almost."

The duo, both experienced climbers, started their trek weeks ago. It's a brutal undertaking for Valari Wedel, who's 61 and has asthma. But also for Jess Wedel, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016. She's had multiple surgeries and months of chemotherapy. She's now cancer-free.

"It feels like part of our healing was coming into the mountains and being able to enjoy each other and have fun and just live life," Jess Wedel said.

They've already weathered storms on Everest. The pair said there were 60 mph winds with whiteout conditions for 43 hours. "When we say we live everyday, we really do because we have been in a place where we didn't have maybe the next day," Valari Wedel said.

They're having the adventure of a lifetime but time together has been the greatest gift.


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