VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman from Vail is the first American woman to complete the Everest Trilogy, summiting three of the world’s highest peaks.
Ellen Miller did two of the climbs after having her hips replaced.
“She’s one of the most remarkable individuals I’ve met in my practice,” said her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Michael Dayton at University of Colorado Hospital.
Miller calls the doctor her hero.
“I love Dr. Dayton because he gave me my life back,” said Miller.
In 2001 Ellen climbed up one side of Mt. Everest, and then in 2002 she summited from the other side.
Then her hips started to hurt.
“She was nearly bone on bone. She had very little cartilage left,” said Dayton.
Miller found Dayton at the University of Colorado Hospital. He replaced one hip in 2008.
Eleven months later she climbed the fourth highest mountain on Earth.
“Desire and determination,” said Miller.
A year later, she had her other hip replaced.
In 2013, she summited the 10th highest peak and became the first American woman to complete the Everest Triple Crown.
“My very first thought was I wasn’t sure I’d cleared her for that activity but I should have known she’d have done it anyway,” said Dayton.
Miller now has her implants checked once every two years.
She’s retired from high altitude mountaineering, but still works as an outdoor fitness coach.
“At this point I believe they’re stronger than my natural hips were,” said Miller.
Miller says she feels blessed because she is lucky enough to live in a culture where she could get her hips fixed and continue to pursue the sports she loves.
University of Colorado Hospital will hold its sixth annual “Hearts of All Ages” fundraiser at Wings Over The Rockies on Feb. 14. All proceeds benefit the Orthopedics department at the University of Colorado Hospital.