After trekking for 45 days, this week a lawyer from Tel Aviv became the first Israeli woman to summit Mount Everest.
Danielle Wolfson, 43, was born in Russia and moved to Israel when she was 10 years old. A lifelong lover of sports, she trained for months before setting off to Kathmandu, Nepal, earlier this year.
Wolfson completed her Everest climb on Tuesday.
“I am happy and proud to be the first Israeli woman to reach the summit,” she posted to her Facebook page after she ascended all 8,849 meters.
“My journey to the summit began in the ‘lowest’ state possible,” she said. In 2011, Wolfson suffered a serious ski accident that left her with multiple broken bones. Doctors said it wasn’t clear if she would walk again.
“I have fears, but there I feel like I’m myself,” Wolfson told Channel 13 news during the climb. “To stand there, to be a woman, to reach the summit and to raise the Israeli flag, and to say: ‘I was here too, on the famous Mount Everest.’”
“I told myself, ‘I will show everyone. I will climb Everest.’” As she was confined to bed for months, thoughts of climbing the highest mountain in the world kept her going, she said.
After completing the climb, Wolfson said she will soon begin her journey back to Israel, and issued a message of hope to those back home, amid increasing tensions between Jewish and Arab populations.
“If we only learn to accept those different to us and love each other, we can together achieve miraculous achievements, almost like climbing to the summit of Everest,” she said.
In January, Wolfson departed Israel for Copiapó, Chile, where she climbed Ojos del Salada, the highest volcano in the world. She told Haaretz at the time that the trip was a practice run for Everest.
“I train every day by running, swimming, bicycling, as part of a triathlon group,” she said of her efforts to prepare herself for climbing Everest.
“With mountains it’s not a matter of speed, it’s a matter of stamina — being on your feet for hours.”
In March, Wolfson climbed Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. At the top of each mountain, she said, she waves an Israeli flag.
“I have a rule. On every summit I hoist an Israeli flag,” she said.
“I wasn’t born here, I came from Russia when I was 10, but I am so Israeli, in every artery. From my point of view, as a woman, just to reach the top and hoist a flag is an honor,” she said. “It’s not that I’m some sort of feminist, but for me it’s an honor that a woman can do that, to hoist a flag on summits where no Israeli has been.”
Wolfson told Haaretz in January that reaching the peak of Everest has been a longtime dream.
“No woman in Israel has done it yet, only three men,” she said. “It’s a dream for me, both in order to test my limits and to show that it’s possible — that every woman can reach her Everest.”