Melissa Arnot Reid

Conquering Life’s Most Challenging Peaks
July 25 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: A Mountain to Climb

What’s your Mount Everest? While our daily obstacles feel miniscule compared with the earth’s highest mountain above sea level, I’d say sometimes they feel pretty darn as insurmountable. No, initiating a bold conversation with your boss or breaking up with your partner isn’t exactly like making a more than 29,000-foot ascent into thin air, but like mountain climbing, you still have to make well-thought-out choices and focus on what’s truly significant. Today, we raise our cowboy coffee to those everyday adventurers who won’t stop till they reach the peak.


If you look at the timeline of Mount Everest climbing attempts, which date back to the early 1920s, it’s one man after another. It wasn’t until 1975 that Junko Tabei became the first woman ever to reach the top, despite briefly losing consciousness in an avalanche. This record breaker set the stage for countless more women to attempt the climb up this so-called “Peak of Heaven,” including many who have done so as part of the American Bouldering Series National Championship. In fact, since 2012, 50 percent of competitors in the championship have been female.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Melissa Arnot Reid, Record-holding Climber

If you’re looking for inspiration to climb a literal mountain, or heck, that hiking trail by your apartment, look no further than Melissa Arnot Reid. Let’s take a moment to roll off her accomplishments. I’m sure they’ll leave you awestruck. Melissa has summited Mount Everest six times and is the first American woman to summit and descend the natural Wonder of the World without supplemental oxygen.

While it may seem like Melissa knows Mount Everest better than most, she says she’s consistently humbled by its “indiscriminate power.” Each ascent and descent differs in some way, requiring even a skilled mountaineer like Melissa to remain vigilant.

One of Melissa’s most remarkable characteristics is her ability to concentrate and never lose steam. Another is her capacity to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. These are just a few traits she shares with those she teaches and climbs alongside as a mountain guide. She’s worked as a guide for more than a decade, and her view as both a climber and a guide led her to co-found The Juniper Fund.

What might surprise you is how expensive climbing one of the world’s most popular mountains can be, and the expedition-industry workers who help make it possible are often adversely affected. The Juniper Fund provides financial support to the families of Nepalese high-altitude workers who have been killed on the job, and works to increase the education and awareness of the dangers such workers experience.

Everest isn’t the only climb listed on Melissa’s resume. She and a friend devoted three years to planning the 50 Peaks Challenge, an attempt to climb the highest point in each U.S. state. They successfully dominated the challenge, breaking the record for the fastest time to summit 50 high points in less than 42 days.


Let’s make the final descent today with a quote from pioneering rock climber Beverly Johnson, who said:

“Rocks make no compromise for sex. Rock climbing is not like some sports, where it is made easier for women, or sports like, say, softball, which is only baseball for soft people. On a rock, everything is equal.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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