In a situation where no amount of training can guarantee success —and the cost of failure could be dire— one woman persevered. After 8 years of training, Melissa Arnot Reid became the first American woman to summit/descend Mount Everest without oxygen.
Motivated and humbled by the power of nature, she became a specialist in high altitude mountaineering. Melissa now helps others find the same sense of accomplishment she did by training them to safely and successfully climb. “Climbing represents the idea that nature is our greatest teacher and the world contains endless learning,” says Reid.
Melissa’s other Everest-sized accomplishment is her beautiful family: a husband, almost 4-year-old daughter, and 2nd baby due in June.
“Being a mama is the thing I’m most proud of in my life. It means carrying a little stuffed dog on all my adventures and returning to share the stories with my girl. It means sharing the wonder of the world through her eyes. Nothing will top this and I’m so grateful to have my girl as the ultimate adventure buddy.”
The Reid family loves to spend time outdoors — Hiking with their Veer, biking and skipping rocks at a nearby lake. Melissa says: “I hope my daughter grows up knowing that the outdoors represent the possibilities- that she can do anything but nature is always in charge. And I hope she grows up knowing that any day that ends covered in dirt was a great day!”
5 quick Mount Everest facts to level set here:
- At 29,029 feet above sea level, it’s the highest peak in the world
- At the top there is only ⅓ of the oxygen available as there is at sea level
- Above 26,000 feet is the altitude referred to as ‘The Death Zone’
- People have died trying to summit/descend it (with and without supplemental oxygen)
- Only ~200 people have ever successfully tried without oxygen & lived to tell about it
Q: Tell us a little bit about what you do professionally?
A: I work as a mountain guide, specializing in high altitude mountaineering. Basically I take people into the mountains and teach them the skills to successfully and safely climb.
Q: What does climbing represent to you?
A: For me climbing represents the idea that nature is our greatest teacher and the world contains endless learning. It both humbles me and gives me confidence.
Q: How does it feel being the first American woman to summit/descend Mount Everest without oxygen?
A: I pursued this goal over the course of eight years, and in that process experienced a lot of failure and growth. Being able to stick with it and accomplish my goal just reinforced that we are capable of so much when we keep showing up.
Q: What is the most challenging accomplishment or thing you are most proud of?
A: Aside from Everest, I think the most challenging thing I do is my mentorship work. It is incredibly rewarding to work with young climbers, but it is also so hard. I enjoy the challenge of learning how to guide and teach the next generation.
Q: Growing up, did you spend much time outdoors?
A: I grew up in Southern Colorado with an outdoor family but I didn’t have access to a ton of organized recreation until I was older. I started climbing when I was 19, and that is where it really started for me.
Q: What do you hope your child will take away from your outdoor experiences together?
A: I hope my daughter grows up knowing that the outdoors represent the possibilities- that she can do anything but nature is always in charge. And I hope she grows up knowing that any day that ends covered in dirt was a great day!