I am not one for labels or being placed in a box. My life reflects that pretty well, as does the absence of a linear path that leads to where I sit today, the founder of an adventure lifestyle media platform for women, Altitude Seven. This is a very different path from my early days in corporate America as a management consultant or a founding member of a real estate development company! I'm more of an “adventurer” than an “outdoors woman," but that is just because I love for trying things that are outside of my comfort zone, and these experiences have fueled me throughout most of my life, especially in the past decade.
It’s been crazy dreams and that thirst for pursuing the extraordinary that have taken me to the highest peak in the world and made me a woman of heart, curiosity, and a woman who enjoys living her life with purpose.
Maybe early in life I cultivated a belief that where I was at the moment was not an indication of where I could be tomorrow, that the options available to me immediately were not necessarily indications of opportunities that might present themselves in the future. I grew up a city girl in L.A. with very humble beginnings, a first generation American as both of my parents had immigrated from Central America in their late teens. I learned Spanish first, thanks to my grandma’s wish that I would never forget the language she saw so many kids losing. The struggles my family faced as I was growing up always motivated my dreams for creating a better life for myself and positioning myself to help others. I had to believe there was more out there for me, and I’ve always worked really hard to make that a reality.
Ten years ago I could barely run a mile, didn’t know how to ski, and had maybe camped a total of three or four nights in my life. I was your unlikely adventurer. I had taken my first couple of trips to Europe, however, and I knew travel would always be a part of my life...I LOVED IT! There was a big world to see and explore, and I had a dream to see as much of it as I could.
While my initial curiosity in the adventure realm was sparked with an indoor rock climbing class I took when I was in my mid-20s, but it was a story and a cause that pushed me into a direction I never really thought my life would take: mountaineering. Mountaineering and setting a crazy physical challenge (the Explorer Grand Slam), was what gave me a voice to speak about a topic I cared deeply about, gender-based violence. To my surprise and ignorance, there were shocking statistics reporting hundreds of thousands of women being impacted by it. While I had no pretense that I could solve this global issue that still plagues us today, at a minimum I could raise funds and awareness for organizations that were working hard to change the statistics. So my journey of mountains began in 2008 with course on Mount Rainier and then off to my first of the Seven Summits a month later on Mount Elbrus. Today I hope to complete the Explorer Grand Slam by April 2018, a feat that less than 50 people globally have completed with three expeditions remaining.
There is beauty in trying things that are so far out of your realm of possibility and actually surprising yourself by being able to do them! My love for adventure has grown deep because it opened the doors to a new life for me, allowed me to find my voice, and defy every social norm I was brought up to believe I should live up to. This new awakening eventually would also help me get through some of my hardest life challenges, amongst them a painful divorce and an on-and-off battle with depression. This new discovery would also be the inspiration to embark on the hardest climb of my life so far, entrepreneurship. The mountains and unknown terrain helped me discover my grit, my overall endurance, my underlying courage and passion. They have taught me lessons no textbook or job ever could, and they have shown me a world I never imagined I would see.
I have seen first-hand how one’s life can be transformed by choosing adventure. This desire to share the gift of adventure with others has been the underlying fuel for creating Altitude Seven, an adventure lifestyle media platform that helps a global community of women adventurers and travelers discover the best outdoor and adventure travel stories, products, experiences, and inspiration all in one place. The company’s brand was created for a new generation of outdoor, adventurous, and globetrotting women, with a mission: to inspire and equip women to live adventurous, bold, and worldly lives. We are spreading the global message for women to #ChooseAdventure. Inspiration struck atop of Denali in 2010, and the first iteration of Altitude Seven came to life in 2014.
We like to say we are changing the “face of adventure,” as the way it sits now is not a true representation of all us badass ladies getting after it out there globally. Women make up 50% of outdoor recreation participation, and we are leading the way in terms of solo travel. Yet we still lack visibility across most media channels; granted there have been many efforts this year by brands and retailers to change this. When it comes to women of color and diverse body types, our representation is basically invisible. This is why we remain committed to elevating the presence and visibility of ALL women in adventure/action sports/travel media.
The beauty in the word adventure is that we can all define what that means to each of us; it is our own journey to discover. I truly believe the benefits and lessons from time spent outside have a positive impact in every other aspect of our lives. Being strong outside or on an adventure can make us strong in the boardroom and beyond. Taking risks in unknown terrain can strengthen our muscles to take bigger leaps to pursue our passions in our work and lives. Being exposed to the greatness of nature can solidify our place in this world, our role to protect it, and inspire dreams for a brighter future for ourselves and others.
This whole crazy journey has been a constant reminder that where you are today is no indication of where you will be tomorrow. #ChooseAdventure