Isabella de la Houssaye raised her five children on adventure. Then came a brutal diagnosis, and a burning desire for a final journey with each one.
As her strength returned after therapy, she made plans to go on adventures — maybe the final ones — with each of her children, ages 16 to 25. There were lessons she wanted to share with her children about grit, persistence and mindfulness.
In January, she and Bella, her third child and only daughter, traveled to Argentina to conquer Aconcagua.... Technically, Aconcagua is a relatively easy mountain because it doesn’t require ropes, ice axes or climbing skills. But it is a two-week climb that requires sleeping in freezing tents while withstanding subzero temperatures and brutal winds. About 40 percent of climbers who attempt to reach the summit get there. Isabella, significantly weakened by chemotherapy and weighing less than 100 pounds, knew this mountain was going to inflict its pain and push her and her daughter to the edge.
This trek was an attempt for Isabella to deliver a few essential lessons to her daughter while she still could, including the acceptance not only of life’s triumphs, but its woes — “joy and suffering alike,” she said.