Since the mid-1980s or so, the idea of climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents has been a goal for many adventurers. The feat takes stamina, determination, and plenty of mental fortitude, not to mention a healthy amount of cash. Still, over the years hundreds of people have managed to complete the undertaking, which includes reaching the top of some of the world’s most iconic mountains. Of those that have managed to do it, roughly 80% are men and 20% women. As of this writing, none have been transgender, although that could soon change.
42-year old Erin Parisi, who happens to be the Executive Director at TranSending.org, has set out to become the first transgender climber to accomplish just that. Over the past 12 months she has summited Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Aconcagua, and Kosciuszko, which means she still has Everest, Denali, and Vinson yet to go, plus Carstensz Pyramid if she wants to factor in that version of the Seven Summits too.
You can follow Erin’s progress on her website, Transending7.org, where she is posting photos and trip reports from the climbs. If she stays on a typical schedule, she may be attempting Mt. Vinson in Antarctica next, as we are now just a few months away from the start of the expedition season on the frozen continent. After that, I’d predict Everest next spring, followed by Denali in early summer or so. Whether or not that is the schedule she adheres to is yet to be seen, but taking into account the upcoming climbing seasons, that would seem to be the logical order.
While climbing the Seven Summits is her biggest project to date, Parisi is no stranger to big adventures. According to athlete profile she has traveled all over the planet, gone heli-skiing in Alaska, climbed Kili twice, hiked the Himalaya across Nepal, and enjoys both ski mountaineering and mountain biking trips across the U.S. and Canada. In other words, she’s not unaccustomed to spending time outdoor and on some big adventures.
As you can probably imagine, Parisi has undertaken the Seven Summits challenge in an effort to raise awareness of the difficulties that transgender people still face in society. By showing that transgender individuals share the same aspirations and love of life as the rest of us, she hopes to foster further understanding and acceptance. That’s as good of a reason as any to climb a mountain.
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