Who knew climbing would inspire me to start my own business? (Photo: Georgina Miranda)
I was reading Glamour magazine back in 2007, when I stumbled upon the article that would change my life. Written by Eve Ensler, the story was about the tens of thousands of women being brutally raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I decided right then and there that I wanted — needed — to do something about this tragedy.
One year later, I launched Climb Take Action, a campaign to raise money for the victimized women in the Congo through climbing. The basic premise: I would climb the highest peak of each continent — something fewer than 30 women had done, ever — in support of the cause. The money I raised would go directly to International Medical Corps and V-Day, two charities that help survivors of sexual gender-based violence in Congo. But I wasn’t a climber, and I could barely run a mile, so the question was: Could I do it?
In a word, yes. Five years and two Everest attempts later, I’ve completed six of my seven summits. Mount Vinson in Antarctica is my only summit left, and I hope to scale it by the end of the year with one of my best friends. And it turns out my experience climbing was never about the summits themselves. It was always about the journey in the first place.
Oh, just another day, scaling snowbanks (Photo: Georgina Miranda)
Climbing for a cause
Mountains have now become a part of my life. They inspired me to learn how to ski at age 28, to run a marathon and a few half-marathons, and more. I’ve gone 23 days without a shower, lost endless toenails, climbed for three weeks with heel blisters that almost went down to the bone, landed twice at one of the most dangerous airports in the world, had one nearly fatal fall, recovered from severe hypoxia that struck at 27,500 feet, and lived in a tent for two months —twice. And it’s all been worth it.
Power women (Photo: Georgina Miranda)
Fundraising for a cause half a world away has also been a different, but no less distinguished, sort of climb. It’s tough to get people to care enough to write a check. But fortunately, every little bit helps, a fact I got to see firsthand when I visited one of the refugee camps that International Medical Corps was supporting in 2009 on the Uganda/DRC border. If you’re able to touch just one life, it’s enough — especially for that one person.
It is an understatement to say that climbing for a cause changed my life. I was so inspired by the adventure world that I recently launched Altitude Seven, an online marketplace for the best in women’s outdoor and adventure travel and gear. I saw a need for stylish and functional apparel and gear for adventurous women, and felt a need to continue giving back to improve the lives of women around the world. We have a commitment to give back 1 percent to the planet, and 1 percent to women. At Altitude Seven, we want to share the gift of adventure with other women, and also leave our world better than we found it through adventure. And so another metaphorical climb begins! Starting a business is a mountain of its own — hats off to all you entrepreneurs out there.
Just me, myself, and my mountains (Photo: Georgina Miranda)
It has been a wild ride since 2007. Who knew I’d be inspired to climb, and then inspired to start a new career, and then be touched enough to continue to help other women? I will leave you with this: I’ve become an adventure advocate because adventure changed my life. And it could change yours, too, especially because it does not mean you need to go scale massive peaks. Maybe you have a dream trip you’ve always wanted to take, or you’ve always wanted to run a marathon, or always wanted to live abroad. Whatever your dream, the point is to just get started, because you never know where it will lead. And when you do get on the adventure track, don’t forget to share the gift of adventure with others. That’s one of the best gifts you could ever give anyone. It might change their life, too.