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How Climbing Mountains Helped These 7 Women Heal

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Now more than ever, many young women are stepping out of their comfort zones — and into nature — to find solace and healing. According to a 2017 national studycommissioned by REI on women and the outdoors, more than 85 percent of women believe that being in nature has had a positive effect on their mental and physical health.

“There’s something spiritual about setting foot on nature. When you’re feeling stuck, literally taking steps forward can give you a new perspective on life,” says Morgan Dixon, co-founder of GirlTrek, a nonprofit organization that encourages African-American women and girls to use walking as a step to healthy living. And because no two paths are the same, we talked to seven women about how getting outside changed them. Let their stories inspire you to reset your priorities, heal from grief, forge your own way, and most importantly, find yourself.

Georgina Miranda, mountaineer and founder of Altitude Seven and She Ventures

After learning about the violent rape epidemic affecting women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgina Miranda couldn’t sit back. But rather than raise awareness through a fundraiser, she decided to take her message around the world. Miranda set out on an Explorer Grand Slam expedition (climbing the seven tallest summits in the world and skiing the last degree of the north and south poles) and launched Climb Take Action, a campaign to raise money for victims of gender-based violence in Congo and places of highest need. “I wanted to do something empowering while raising awareness,” she says.

And that something wasn’t easy. While climbing Mount Everest in 2011, Miranda developed hypoxia (a form of high-altitude sickness due to low oxygen levels). She was just five hours away from reaching the peak when she had to turn back. “Mountaineering taught me that failure isn’t always a bad thing,” Miranda says. “You’re at the mercy of nature and you have this goal, but you have to be respectful. I knew that if I kept going I would put myself and other people I was with in danger,” Miranda recounts. In 2013, Miranda returned to Mount Everest, and she summited.

To inspire other women to find purpose in nature and choose adventure as a way of life, Miranda founded Altitude Seven (and She Ventures), which provides information and inspiration for women who want to explore the world and a new way of living. “I didn’t grow up athletic, and mountaineering has brought another level of confidence in me to tackle life,” Miranda says. “Adventure changes lives, and I say choose adventure.”

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