Vail, Colorado's Ellen Miller returns to the top with a little help from titanium
When Ellen Miller, 52, of Vail, Colorado, stood on top of the world's eighth-highest mountain, Nepal's Manaslu, ...
Photo by Jack Affleck
When Ellen Miller, 52, of Vail, Colorado, stood on top of the world's eighth-highest mountain, Nepal's Manaslu, at 26,759 feet, last October, it was not even close to her highest summit view. The Colorado runner and climber had already beheld the world from its highest vantage point—twice. She became the first North American woman to summit Mount Everest from both sides when she reached the top via the South Col route from Nepal in May 2002, a year after climbing the Northeast Ridge route from Tibet in 2001.
But for Miller, the view from Manaslu's summit may have been the sweetest. The mountain's name comes from the Sanskrit word manasa, meaning soul or spirit. And Miller's successful climb of the peak last autumn was a cherished homecoming to the mountains, one that may speak louder about her essence than any other climb she has done.
In 2007, the USATF certified running coach and manager of the Women's United States Mountain Running Team (USMRT) began experiencing pain in her hips. After traveling to Europe and competing in the GoreTex Transalpine Run stage race that summer, she went to see a physician in Vail. He sent her in for an MRI, which revealed that Miller's hip cartilage was shot. Hip specialist Dr. Michael Dayton's summation was succinct: Most human joints are made to last about 100,000 miles, and hers were worn out.