Are you feeling like spending a lazy weekend on the sofa? Nothing wrong with that. But maybe you wish you could muster up the motivation to get outside a bit more, go for a walk, a run or even a hike? Check out these three badass women mountaineers’ stories, and I’m sure you’ll have a hard time finding any more excuses to hide inside.
1. Lucy Walker – Up the Matterhorn with Cake and Champagne
Born in 1836, Lucy Walker is credited to be the first woman to make the Alps her playground. She first picked up hiking when her doctor told her to get more active to fight her rheumatism. That’s right, she suffered from a disease that would cause her horrible pain in her joints and to fix it she started climbing mountains. As you do.
She was really good at it too! She became the first woman to climb multiple peaks like Balmhorn and the Eiger. But it wasn’t until she beat her rival Meta Brovoort to the top of the Matterhorn that she rose to world fame. The Matterhorn is the mountain you see in the picture below. You can see that getting up there is no Sunday walk in the park.
And apparently, she did it all in a white dress surviving on a diet of sponge cakes and champagne. What a legend.
2. Arunima Sinha – First Female Amputee on Everest
Arunima Sinha was born in 1988 in India. In her 20s she had already reached athletic success, playing volleyball AND football (soccer) on a national level. You can tell this girl was not somebody you wanted to mess with.
Arunima was on a train when a bunch of thugs wanted to steal her bags. She fought back and the robbers pushed her out of the moving train. Arunima landed on the tracks and an oncoming train crushed her leg. She got rushed to the hospital where doctors had to amputate her leg in order to save her life.
After months of rehab and getting used to her new prosthetic leg, she did what most people would absolutely NOT do in her case. She decided to climb Everest. That’s right.
She started her mountaineering training in 2011 and climbed a bunch of peaks in 2012 as part of her training. In 2013, she started her 52-day ascend to Mount Everest. She reached it on 13 May 2013, at the age of 24, becoming the first female amputee to reach Everest’s summit.
3. Arlene Blum – A Woman’s Place is on the Top
Arlene Blum was born in 1945 in Iowa, US. She became an active climber during her college years in the 60s and eventually wanted to step up her game. She applied for a bunch of expeditions but kept getting refused because she was a woman. One guy told her that bringing a woman along on the trip would be very unpleasant because of the “easy masculine companionship which is so vital a part of the joy of an expedition”. And another guy told her she could come with them to basecamp… to help with the cooking. WTF?
Arlene wouldn’t have any of that though. She continued climbing as part of her thesis which she wrote on volcanic gasses. In order to analyse those, well, she kind of had to organise her own research expeditions. I wonder if she hired a guy to help with the cooking.
Being confronted with all that rampant sexism in the climbing world, Arlene started putting together all-women teams to tackle some of the most famous summits around the globe.
In 1978, she successfully led a team of 11 women mountaineers to the top of Anapurna. A feat only achieved by 8 people before them. All of them men.
What are you going to do?
I know we are not all going to climb Everest, at least I know I’m not. But these women show us that no matter what ginormous obstacles life throws our way, and no matter how many people tell us we can’t do something, we can sure as hell get off our sofa, get out there and give it our best. And who knows, we might even achieve some great things. And at worst, we’ll still get to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.