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From Bedridden to World’s Highest Peak: First Israeli Woman’s Journey to Conquer Everest

Ten years ago, Danielle Wolfson was told she might never walk again. In a few weeks, the 43-year-old attorney from Tel Aviv expects to wave the flag of her adopted homeland at the summit of the highest mountain in the world—Everest.

“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,'” Wolfson told Israel’s Channel 13 in an interview recently.

If she succeeds, Wolfson will become the first Israeli woman to accomplish the feat.

“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.”

Wolfson was born in Russia but moved to Israel when she was a child. She has always been into sports, but when a skiing accident left her with multiple broken bones and a grim prognosis, her dream to climb Everest was born. During her months of bedrest, recovery, and rehabilitation, Wolfson set a goal to scale the famous peak.

To prepare, she entered into serious training—running, swimming, and biking daily with her triathlon group. In January of this year, she climbed the highest volcano in the world—Ojos del Salada in Chile. Two months later, she raised the Israeli flag at the top of the highest summit in Europe—Mount Elbrus.

“I have a rule. On every summit, I hoist an Israeli flag,” Wolfson 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. 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 is currently in the middle of her climb to the top of Everest. She reached base camp on the south side of the mountain last week. Mountain climbing is about endurance, she says. “It’s a matter of stamina—being on your feet for hours.” The climb typically takes a couple of months to complete. Wolfson expects to be waving Israel’s flag at Everest’s summit in a few weeks.

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