Create & Cultivate 100: Health & Wellness: Melissa Arnot Reid

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Nothing can stop her she's all the way up (on the top of Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen).

She may be the first American woman to successfully summit and descend Everest without supplemental oxygen, but Eddie Bauer guide Melissa Arnot Reid has said that “being the first is irrelevant.” As one of the world’s most revered climbers, she has summited Everest 6 times, holding the record for an American woman. (Nepali Lhakpa Sherpa has 7 summits as of 2016, the most of any woman, anywhere.) Despite her near-mastery of the mountain, Arnot Reid remains in humbled by it, all-too aware of its indiscriminate power over even the most skilled and seasoned climbers. Its with this humility in mind that Arnot Reid co-founded The Juniper Fund to provide financial support to families of local workers killed in the mountains of Nepal.

Find out this world class athlete literally climbed her way to the top.

On August 7th of 2017, you and Maddie Miller broke the record for the fastest time to summit each state’s high point in 41 days, 16 hours, and 10 minutes. WOW. Just Wow. And also, why? What compelled the 50 Peaks challenge?

We completed this challenge in August of 2016 after 3 years of planning. It was really Maddie's idea- a way to have an adventure framed within a goal. Our goal was to complete the peaks in 50 days but when it became clear we might be able to get the speed record we decided to go all out (aka, no sleeping).

Mentorship is a huge part of Create & Cultivate? Did you have a mentor? And why is mentorship important to you?

Mentorship is a totally lost art. I never had a mentor and I had to make a lot of mistakes of my own, which is why I have dedicated myself to trying to be a solid mentor for the next generation of young female climbers. I work with a 15, 18 and 22 year old and it is super rewarding to see where they are going with what tools I can share with them.

Is there a climb where you would say you learned the "hardest" lesson?

My hardest lesson came on a climb in 2010 when my partner was killed in an ice avalanche while we were together. I had always felt that I was making safe decisions so I would always be safe but that moment reminded me and taught me that mother nature is in control and all you can do is respect that. It changed the path of my life.

You're the first American woman to ascend and descend Everest without supplemental oxygen. What's it like to be the "first" in something? Does that make you feel more pressure to perform?

I think that being first is a little scary but also wonderful because it shows others what is possible.

Everyone always talks about the ascension. But what's the climb down like?

The climb is one thing but the descent is so much more serious- you are already tired and have so much to lose. Each step matters, there and back.

Where does your boundless ability to push yourself come from?

I have a deep personal curiosity of what is possible for me. That keeps me pushing myself and trying new things.

What would you call your superpower?

Perseverance and a real ability to tune out discomfort.

If you could give a room of women one piece of advice, what would it be?

Take the first step. Ignore the end goal, it always seems overwhelming if you are looking 20 miles down the road. Just take the first step and you will be surprised at what momentum you create.

What's your favorite advice you've ever received?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams- (it's a Thoreau quote). It is my guiding principal. Don't be timid, go after your dreams.

"Don't be timid, go after your dreams."

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How much of a climb is psychical? And how much is mental?

100 percent both. You need to be strong the whole time but you also need to believe in yourself and keep those mental traps from weighing you down.

What do you think you'll be doing as an 80-year-old lady?

I hope climbing on a sunny day with my husband and family. Something outside for sure. I am an outdoor animal, I don't think that will change with age.

What new challenges are you excited to face in your lifetime?

I am always looking for new ways to learn and push my own boundries. Anything where I am learning I consider an adventure.