8 Summits + 2 Poles For AN UNLIKELY ADVENTURER
THE EXPLORER GRAND SLAM IS AN ADVENTURER'S CHALLENGE TO REACH THE NORTH POLE, THE SOUTH POLE AND ALL OF THE SEVEN SUMMITS.
As of 2017 I have successfully completed 6 of the 8 summits and plan to finish in 2019 (a 10 year endeavor). I began the challenge in 2008 with an ascent of Mt. Elbrus-highest peak in Europe (5642m). Prior to starting the challenge, I could barely run a mile, had only been car camping a few times, didn't know how to ski, looked at my first gear list and had to google everything on it haha- it was the start of introducing me to a whole new world and life. Little did I know the impact it would all truly have years later. I often joke about how I was voted "most improved" in every sport I played in grade school because I was THAT bad. I was never considered "athletic" really, but I always wanted to give it all a try. I truly believe an "adventurer" lives in all of us. I am proof. Passion and Curiosity make up some of the key ingredients. #ChooseAdventure
To date, less than 60 people globally have completed the challenge, of which only 14 are women. I hope to be the 5th American woman and one of the very few Latinas on the list (there is only one other as of now).
HOW I GOT STARTED
The Wake Up Call:
Life has given me several "wake up calls," causing me to make 180 degree changes in life, but one of the most impactful ones happened August 2007 while reading Glamour Magazine looking for haircut ideas one night. As I flipped through the pages what stuck out was not the new ideal haircut, but instead Eve Ensler's account of her visit to Democratic Republic of Congo and the remarkable women she met there. These women lived in a world where 420,000 women are raped each year -- roughly 48 per hour and 1,152 per day. Shocking I know, but sadly true. They had endured and survived brutalities unimaginable to most humans, but the key thing was they had survived and showing incredible resilience and the deep desire for a better future. I remember feeling so ignorant, confused, enraged...asking myself why I didn't know about this? Why was this not splashed across all mainstream media? Why was I reading about this in a fashion magazine? If this were happening to a population of men, I think the whole world would know about it...right?
The Call to Action:
All I knew at that moment and after doing some more research was that I wanted to do something to help and have voice to raise awareness. I decided to give myself a challenge that for me would be almost 'impossible' to complete at that time in my life. I launched a campaign, Climb Take Action, to climb the highest peak on each continent to raise funds and awareness for these survivors of some of the most horrific gender-based violence of its kind. In 2009 I was able to visit the Uganda/DRC border with International Medical Corps and meet some of these women. Their stories, their tears, their smiles, and their resilience have served as endless inspiration and confirmed that "it only takes one"-- if you can make a difference in the life of another human, even if just one, to them it meant the world. As the years went on, and I learned to be a mountaineer, to ski, to run, and more, I expanded the challenge to complete the Explorer Grand Slam. To date I have climbed six of the eight summits, including Mt. Everest (2011+2013). Remaining expeditions include: Antarctica (Mt. Vinson + South Pole), Carstensz Pyramid, and the North Pole. Yet there are endless mountains to climb in the literal sense and in life.
WHY I KEEP GOING:
Gender-based based violence continues to be a global issue and not just relevant in DRC. 35% of women have experienced gender-based violence worldwide. 1 in 3 women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. International Medical Corps and VDAY continue to do incredible work to bring attention and relief for survivors. Going forward, the campaign/challenge will continue raising awareness and funds for gender-based violence in the areas of highest need as deemed by these organizations.
This project shares the voices and stories of women and places at risk. 1 in 3 women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. Arctic sea ice is melting at an alarming rate- 12% per decade. Climate change is real and the landscape and livelihood of these places is drastically changing.
The power of adventure
The mountains, the training, the traveling, these women literally changed my life over the past 10 years and made me an adventure advocate. I set off to do a massive challenge, which I am always seriously training for, but at the onset basically started from zero. I started by walking 30 minutes a day, which lead to being able to eventually run a mile, which lead to eventually being able to go for longer steeper hikes like Mt. Baldy in LA at a little over 10,000 feet, to then hitting my first big mountain, Mt. Rainier (4,392 m), to then being able to go for my first of the 7 Summits, Mt. Elbrus in Russia. I lost many toe nails in the process of training lol and learned some tough newbie lessons along the way. I also was often the only woman or one of the few women on my expeditions, which came with so much learning about myself in the end. In a nutshell, 30 minutes a day was the start to life changing stuff!
The mountains have shaped the woman I have become and for that I am eternally grateful. They have taught me lessons no text book or job ever could. They have shown me a world I never imagined I would see. They have made me authentic, humble, resilient, fearless, respectful, and filled with gratitude for life and the ability to dream. They have proven that the extraordinary is always possible and that I should never limit myself or life's potential. The have inspired my next adventure, entrepreneurship, and to continue to be a champion for women for life.
The mountains and adventuring have changed my life in the best ways possible. Like I said, when I started this challenge I couldn't even run a full mile, but over the past 10 years have trained endlessly and climbed all over the world, ran 2 full marathons, and many half marathons, ran 40 miles for my 37th birthday this year, learned to ski, got into ski touring, jumped out of planes and off bridges, learned to dive and lose my fear of deep water, and who knows what lies next! Funny what the body will do if you tell it to! I have fallen in love with the outdoors and adventuring and inspired to share that with others because I know it has the power to change lives and it is for everyone. You don't have to scale big peaks to be an 'adventurer', it's something that lives in your heart and everyone can choose to enjoy adventure differently-that's the beauty of it.
6 Summits to date | pending carstenz pyramid, mt. vinson, south pole in 2018 and north pole in spring of 2019
"WOMEN INSPIRED ME TO CLIMB. THE MOUNTAINS OPENED MY HEART AND MY WORLD.
I AM FOREVER THANKFUL." -Georgina
Denali, USA 6194m
2010 Expedition to the top of North America.
Mount Kosciuszko, Australia 2228m
Mt. Everest, Nepal 8848m
2013 Expedition. May 21. 10:15 am reached the TOP OF THE WORLD.
Mt. aconcagua, Argentina 6962m
Mt. Elbrus, Russia 5642m
Mt. Everest, Nepal 8400m
2011 Expedition, reached the balcony of Everest at 27.500 feet and then suffered from hypoxia, collapsed, and had to turn around to safety.
Mt. Kilimanjaro Africa 5895m