Sari Anne Tuschman 2016-09-01 07:24:55
Get to know Melissa Arnot, a mountaineer who finds inspiration on top of the world’s highest peaks. Melissa Arnot is something of a superwoman: She has summited Everest more times than any other Western woman, a title she has held since 2013 and cemented again this year with another successful climb to the top of the world’s highest peak. “Continuing to climb Everest has two motivations for me,” says the 32-year-old athlete of her reasoning for returning to Everest and standing on its mount six times. “One motivation is to work at my job as a mountain guide, and the other is to pursue my goal of climbing it without supplemental oxygen. That’s been a long-term goal of mine.” This past spring saw that objective realized when Arnot became the first American female to successfully complete the harrowing trek sans supplemental oxygen. Equipped with superpowers, indeed. PASSION AND TRAGEDY Growing up in Colorado and Montana, Arnot began climbing after finishing college, drawn to the fact that it was a noncompetitive athletic pursuit. “I wanted to make it my career, mostly because I didn’t have the resources to travel, so I knew I’d have to work to be able to go to the places I wanted to climb and explore,” she says. Today, Arnot is based between Sun Valley, Idaho, and Seattle, and when she’s not conquering mountains around the world—either as a guide or for pleasure—she eats healthily, catches up on muchneeded sleep and trains approximately three to five hours a day. However, free time is a true rarity for Arnot: In 2015 she had a grand total of 17 days off. While Arnot is like many women devoted to their career, her job is different than most in that it’s seriously dangerous—in fact, it can be deadly. In 2014, an avalanche on Everest killed 16 Nepalese guides; the following year brought an earthquake that also led to a significant loss of lives. Arnot was on the south side of the mountain during both of the incidents and was forced to turn back. “The last two years on Everest were absolutely tragic,” she says. “I lost friends in those accidents, and I saw so much devastation. It rattles you. I felt very unbalanced, and I really wanted to have a positive experience on Everest to counteract that.” This season she approached the mountain from the north side for the first time, climbing with her boyfriend, who is also a mountain guide but had never ascended Everest. “We worked hard as partners to make it happen,” she says of her latest accomplishment. But the last two years weren’t the first times Arnot witnessed tragedy. In 2010, her trekking partner, a Sherpa, was killed while they were climbing together. Reeling from the loss, she and fellow mountaineer David Morton decided to create The Juniper Fund to assist individuals and families adversely impacted by the mountainbased adventure industry through monetary contributions, support and education. It’s a cause that’s dear to Arnot’s heart and one that allows her to give back to the people and industry that have supported her so much. So what exactly is it about the world’s tallest mountain that makes it so alluring? “[Everest] holds a sacred energy. It provides adventure, challenge and supports the livelihoods of many people, including me,” Arnot says. “I think part of what fascinates [people about it] is that it’s challenging but accessible. K2—the world’s second highest peak—is much more challenging, but it doesn’t get the same attention because you need significant technical ability to climb there.” NEXT ACT Never one to rest on her previous accomplishments, Arnot tackled a new project this summer: the 50 Peaks Challenge, in which she and her mentee, Maddie Miller, attempted to summit the highest point in each U.S. state over the span of 50 days. “Mentorship and sharing what I have learned are so important to me,” Arnot says. “Maddie had been climbing with me for the last four years and helping her to achieve this goal has been so rewarding. Lots of people helped me achieve my Everest goals, so now is the time to pay it forward.” While other athletes have climbed all 50 high points before, no woman has done it in just 50 days. Unfortunately, at the onset of the adventure, Arnot was still recovering from an Everest-induced injury due to extreme cold and had to skip the first summit of Denali (the highest peak in Alaska and North America), but Miller succeeded. On Aug. 7, the duo completed the trek with Miller breaking the world record by finishing the challenge in 41 days, 16 hours and 10 minutes. While this project wasn’t without incident, it’s clear there is little that deters Arnot from what she was born to do. “Being in the mountains is rewarding on a deep, soulful level,” Arnot says. “I love teaching people and taking care of people and being a mountain guide combines those two things in an environment I love.” PURPOSEFUL PEAKS Melissa Arnot and Maddie Miller posted on social media throughout the 50 Peaks Challenge, allowing supporters to track their progress and follow the adventure. Here are five standout moments from their journey. (melissaarnot.com) JUNE 27: Miller checks in at the summit of Denali in Alaska, the highest peak in the U.S. towering 20,310 feet above sea level. JULY 1: The team heads to Florida, home of the journey’s lowest peak. Arnot and Miller stroll to the state’s highest point at Britton Hill in Lakewood Park, which stands at just 345 feet. JULY 5: Miller and Arnot reach the summits of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia all in one—very long—day. JULY 12: The team climbs to the top of Mt. Mansfield in Vermont hitting peak 25, the halfway point of their intense journey. AUG. 7: Reaching the top of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, the women complete their last climb with Miller garnering the all-time speed record by finishing the trek in just over 41 days.
Published by Firebrand Media . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Moving+Mountains/2575599/334726/article.html.