Mountaineer Nicky Messner led an all female expedition to Mt. Kilimanjaro in July, 2011. Her goal was to share her mountaineering passion with other women, and encourage them to do the things they’ve only ever dreamed of, whether they be climbing or something else. Following are her thoughts on leading her first all female team.
Karen McNeill was one of the top female alpinists and ice climbers, and at the forefront of female climbing when she and Sue Nott perished on Mt. Foraker attempting the first female ascent of the Infinite Spur. Karen also made her mark on the next generation of women climbers through her work as a Girly Guide with Chicks with Picks. She wasn’t only an amazing climber, she was also a remarkable person, teacher and friend. One of her closest friends, Margo Talbot, reflects on the force of nature that was Karen McNeill and the lasting impact she left.
Weeping Pillar is one of the classic grade 6 waterfall ice climbs in the Canadian Rockies, and on the hit-list of many ice climbers. Although the author, Margo Talbot, always dreamed of climbing it, for years her focus was consumed by her desire to overcome manic-depression. Bi-Polar Odyssey takes the reader into where these two worlds collide. This is one woman’s journey of self-discovery, healing and leading the hardest ice of her life.
Living in the Canadian Rockies is an ice climber’s dream. It took a while to embrace the nature of the sport, learn how to endure the cold, and face the fears of this unknown medium. The places it brings you, the idea of climbing something that is not there in the summer, and the adventures getting to these frozen sculptures that lead you to places you would never otherwise go, become addictive and extremely rewarding. It can feel like an endless adventure here in the Rockies chasing climbs in a guidebook that hosts close to 800 different established lines! With that type of known and predictable potential, it can often be hard to find the motivation, and mostly the opportunity, to seek an unclimbed frozen waterfall. This was just my luck last year when my good friend and guiding cohort, Jen Olson asked me to join her to attempt a new route she spotted while working a ski touring trip in the Lake O’Hara region.
Grounded, honest, ordinary woman who is extraordinary. That is Nicky Messner. When I asked her why she started expedition mountaineering, with a good hearted laugh she answered, “Not with the plan to climb Mt. Everest. I started mountaineering to quit smoking.” Nicky Messner is the most humble and unassuming summitter of Everest I have met. She’s genuine. She’s no super human athlete; one could easily mistake her for your everyday climber, triathalon athlete, or marathon runner. She does not carry the attitude of “I’ve summitted Everest.” What she has in spades is patience, perseverance and heart. Nicky is an inspiration to women everywhere that no matter what their goal is, big or small, they can accomplish it.