In honour of International Women’s Day, we recently caught up with Liz Rose, who in 2017 at the age of 26, became the youngest Canadian to climb the seven summits. For those who aren’t familiar, the Seven Summits are the highest mountains on each of their respective continents. Having recently published her first book entitled "Written in the Snow", Liz is embarking on a busy 2019 with absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Liz, first things first - tell us how you got started with climbing.
I was a recent graduate who was at a crossroads in life; I didn’t land my dream job right out school, so I started searching for a different sort of adventure. I stumbled upon Mount Kilimanjaro - this is the tallest mountain in Africa, located in Tanzania. It could be summited in a week which was perfect – it could be my quick fix. After that, I was hooked.
So completing the Seven Summits wasn’t always a lifelong goal for you?
Definitely not! It wasn’t until trekking to Mount Everest base camp in Nepal where I learned what the Seven Summits were. Being surrounded by the Himalayas made me fall in love with the idea of climbing to the top of Everest one day. I’m a very goal-oriented person, and the Seven Summits seemed like an epic goal to set for myself. Plus, I already had one down!
Out of all the mountains you’ve climbed, do you have a favourite?
I mean there’s nothing quite like standing on top of the world. The summit of Everest was the most gorgeous view I’d ever seen. What most people don’t realize is that standing at the top is really only half way...you still have to get down safely, which can be the real struggle.
I can’t imagine how challenging that must’ve been. How did you push yourself mentally, physically and emotionally to keep moving forward?
Climbing is physically exhausting - the days are long, and your pack is heavy. I’d set small goals for myself and just focus on my next seven steps, then I would start over again. Mentally – well, the mental game is one of the largest factors. These expeditions can be long (Everest for example is a 2-month expedition), but there was never a point where I wanted to quit. For most of my climbs, I brought encouraging letters from family and friends with me to open when I needed a morale boost.
As a young adult who set out to figure out her path in life, what do you think was the biggest lesson you learned throughout your journey?
Honestly, to believe in myself. I wouldn’t have made it up any of those mountains if I didn’t think I had it in me. I had a lot of doubters and I couldn’t let that defeat me.
Speaking of doubters – climbing is a very dangerous, male-dominated sport. How did you push yourself to continue moving forward in a sport like this?
Climbing is for sure a male-dominated sport, but I don’t let this intimidate me one bit! I’ve grown up with twin older brothers, so I’ve spent my life trying to keep up with them. I would love to break the barriers women face in the mountaineering world.
Now apart from gear, what are 3 things you bring with you on every climb?
iPhone (for music and camera), letters from family & friends, and my favourite candies.
And finally, if you could give other young adults one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t stress too much about the future. Everyone is on their own path in life and you shouldn’t compare your journey to others because everything will eventually work out the way it should. I’ve learned to be present and enjoy every moment in life.
You can follow Liz's journey via her Instagram account @lizrose5