I had the opportunity recently to sit in a room and hear from a very impressive young lady (I can say “young lady” since I am now in the later half of my 40’s). Her name was Kim Hess……and she has been pursuing adventure for most of her life. Kim is seeking to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam, which is climbing the highest peak on all 7 continents and travelling to the North Pole and South Pole. This feat has been achieved by less than 60 people in the world, and only 12 of them have been women. Considering we have around 7 billion people on earth, that is an infinitesimally small number. Kim has climbed six of those 7 peaks so far.
Her first major peak was Aconcagua, South America’s tallest mountain (standing at 22,841 ft). She was just 25 years old when she attempted this feat. Her team included 17 men who all doubted her ability to succeed and were concerned about her being on the trip. But succeed she did. In fact, she was the first one to summit from the group. She has since become personal friends with all 17 of those team members, and all have since apologized to her for doubting her abilities.
Her first attempt up Mt. Everest in 2015 was cut short by a devastating earthquake that caused a series of avalanches and left 18 hikers dead. What started as a quest for glory ended as a rescue mission and desperate search for survivors. It took over two weeks to get down from the mountain and evacuate from the country. After a year of recovery, reflection, and re-commitment, she once again faced Everest. It took nine weeks to hike to the summit of Mt. Everest. Much of that time is spent acclimating one’s body to the stratospheric altitude. When she reached the South summit she was blessed with the sight of the full moon on one side of the mountain and the sun gently rising on the other side.
She continues to conquer other mountains, conquer her own internal fears and limitations, and defy those who have doubted her in past or judged her ability because she is a woman. I have no doubt that she will place her name among the elite list of members who have accomplished the Explorer’s Grand Slam. As the father of a teenage daughter, she is an inspiration to me for what ANY person in this world can accomplish……regardless of gender, age, or any other perceived limitation.
To learn more about Kim Hess, or to support her in her Grand Slam efforts (these excursions can cost between $5,000 and $130,000 per trip), visit her website at http://www.kimhessclimbs.com/.