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Melissa Arnot: Female Mountain Climber

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Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin tell the story of Melissa Arnot. Arnot has climbed many mountains and set many climbing records. But she has also worked to help climbers and guides.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Click here to follow along with this program on YouTube.

Voice 1 

Three men climb near the top of Mount Everest. It is very, very cold. And the wind is blowing. The climbers decide to return to camp for the night. As they move back down the mountain, they meet a group of angry Sherpa men. These local guides help climbers on the mountain. But today, they are angry with the three climbers. The guides believe the climbers were unsafe.  And they think the climbers caused an accident that hurt their friend.

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Soon, almost 100 angry guides surround the three climbers! The climbers are scared. The fight has become violent. Just then, a woman walks into the angry crowd. She stands between the three climbers and the angry guides. She takes the hand of one of the guides. The woman calms the situation and encourages the men to talk. After 45 minutes, they all sign a paper. It says they agree to stop fighting.

Voice 1 

The woman who stopped the fight is Melissa Arnot. She is a famous female mountain climber. And her desire to help other people has earned her the respect of climbers all over the world. Today’s Spotlight is on Melissa Arnot.

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Melissa Arnot is from the western United States. As a child, she enjoyed nature and being active. But, she did not start climbing mountains until after university. In 2001, Arnot climbed her first mountain. It was Mount Rainer in the state of Washington. This climb changed her life. After, she decided to devote her life to climbing. She trained to become a wilderness emergency medical expert. And later, she became a mountain climbing guide.

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Over the last 10 years, Arnot has climbed many of the world’s tallest and most difficult mountains. She has climbed Mounts McKinley, Kilimanjaro, and Cayambe. She has also climbed Cotopaxi and Aconcagua four times each.  But the mountain she has climbed the most is Mount Rainier. She has reached the top over 100 times!

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One of the most difficult mountains Arnot has climbed is Mount Everest. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. And it is located in the country of Nepal. On May 21st, 2013, Arnot climbed Everest for the 5th time. This was a great achievement. After, Eddie Bauer asked Arnot if she felt a responsibility to encourage female climbers. She said:

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“I am proud to be a part of the continually changing sport of mountain climbing. I would be proud to encourage any climber, man or woman, to push their own limits in the mountains. The mountain does not know if you are a man or a woman.”

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Arnot loves climbing. But she does not do it just to set records. She told ESPN W news,

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“The honest truth is that very few people care what I am doing. I am not curing cancer or feeding hungry children.  I am continually working toward these goals. I am pushing myself into territory that is always changing…All I am really doing is trying to teach myself how to live.”

Voice 2 

Arnot loves to help other people live, learn and push their own limits too. She has worked as a mountain climbing guide since 2004. She loves her work. But being a female guide can be difficult. Not all people are willing to work with Arnot. Some climbers have refused to let her guide them. And some guides treat her differently. She told ESPN W news,

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“The other guides that I work with sometimes treat me like I am less able than them. I do not think they mean to do it. I just think their natural reaction to a small, young woman is that I can not be their equal.”

Voice 1 

But Arnot has earned the respect of many people in the mountain climbing community. She works hard and always helps other people. These qualities have made her many friends. One particular friend was Chhewang Nima. Nima was a well-known Nepali guide. He had climbed Everest 19 times!  In 2010, Arnot was climbing with Nima. They had climbed together many times before. But on this climb, the ice broke. And Nima died.

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Arnot could not stop thinking about Nima’s wife and two sons. They were left alone. Arnot told Outside magazine,

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“For a few years, his wife refused to see me. She was not ready. Last year, she was finally ready to see me. We sat in her house, but she could not talk. She was just crying. It was a pain I cannot describe.”

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Arnot recognized that the family was suffering both emotionally and financially. The local Sherpa guides do very dangerous work. But there is little support for their families if they die. Arnot told Outside magazine:

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“The Sherpa will continue to take this dangerous work. They love Everest, and it is how they earn money to support themselves. So, I want to teach climbers to respect their support team. And I want to help Sherpa get what they need.”

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So Arnot and climber David Morton formed the organization Juniper Fund. The goal of this organization is to support local mountain guides, like the Sherpa. The organization provides rescue resources for local guides. And if a guide dies, they provide money and other resources for the families. For Arnot, this work is a way to give back to the climbing community. And it is a way to respect the important work of the Sherpa guides.

Voice 1 

Arnot works in a field full of risk and challenge. Climbing is both exciting and dangerous.  And it has taught her a lot. She has learned to develop her own abilities, and she has learned to care for other people. But Arnot told womensmovement.com.

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“The most important thing I have learned is that mountains do not care who you are. They do not care where you came from. And they do not care how many times you have been there before…You have to show up with a desire to work with the uncontrollable and the unknown. This is something that continually translates back into my day-to-day life.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Lauren Visser. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Melissa Arnot: Female Mountain Climber.”

Voice 1 

You can also find Spotlight on Facebook and Twitter – just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Have you ever climbed a mountain? Would you want to?

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