“It’s truly a necessity to have a passion as a compass in life.”
It’s so easy to get comfortable. To accept life as it is. To kick back — and just settle.
Luxury and ease are what we are taught to seek. But it’s actually at odds with the vitality and fulfillment most desire. My experience is that life gets interesting when you have the courage, strength and fortitude to step outside your comfort zone, face a little fear and test your limits.
Because extending your boundaries strips away the non-essential, and shows you exactly who you really are.
Fail or succeed, this is where all the magic happens. The growth. And a life fueled by purpose and passion.
Today we explore these themes with North Face athlete Hilaree Nelson, one of the world’s most accomplished adventure athletes.
Named one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year, Hilaree specializes in ski-mountaineering — a discipline that involves huge and often technical mountain ascents either on skis or carrying them, then descending said peaks on skis.
Over the course of her storied career, Hilaree has conquered some of the most exotic and treacherous mountain ranges on Earth. Among her many accomplishments:
- the first woman to climb both Everest and its 8,000-meter neighbor, Lhotse, in a 24-hour period
- the first person to ski down all five of the Mongolian Altai’s “Holy Peaks”
- skied from the Himalayan summit of Cho Oyu in Tibet
- summited peaks and volcanoes in remote locations across Russia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Bolivia, Argentina, Lebanon & Tibet
I first came across Hilaree by way of Down To Nothing, a stunning documentary by Renan Ozturk that chronicles a 2014 National Geographic expedition to be the first to ascend the summit of Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar to determine if it is indeed Southeast Asia’s highest point. It’s a gorgeous and gripping glimpse of Hilaree’s skill and tenacity in the face of a uniquely extraordinary challenge.
This is her story.
It’s an incredible conversation about fear, risk resilience, adventure and potential. It’s about balancing the pull of adventure against her responsibilities as a single mom to two boys. It’s about the allure of the outdoors.
But mostly, this is an exchange about the virtues of placing yourself outside that comfort zone – and what that can teach us about potential. The preciousness of life. And what it means to be truly alive.
Hilaree is a badass. It’s a pleasure to share her experience. And I sincerely hope it inspires you to seek more adventure in your life.
For the visually inclined, you can watch the conversation on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/hIec2i7jDFA
If you are enjoying the video versions of the show, do me a favor and subscribe!
Peace + Plants,
Watch Down To Nothing directed by Renan Ozturk
Background, Context & Reference
- Connect with Hilaree: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
- The North Face: Hilaree Nelson, Ski Mountaineer
- National Geographic Speakers Bureau: Hilaree O’Neill, Mountaineer
- National Geographic: 2018 Adventurers of the Year
- National Geographic: On Myanmar’s Mystery Peak, Drama and a Challenge Like No Other by Kelley McMillan
- National Geographic: How a Remote Peak in Myanmar Nearly Broke an Elite Team of Climbers by Mark Jenkins
- The Outdoor Journal: The Peaks of Good and Evil by Hilaree O’Neill
- National Geographic: This Ski Mountaineer Found Redemption on India’s Peak of Evil by Andrew Bisharat
- Teton Gravity: Hilaree Nelson Story by Kimberly Beekman
- Outside: How Hilaree O’Neill Bounced Back from the Most Demoralizing Climb of Her Life by Jacob Baynham
- Digital Trends: Tougher than Everest? How Hkakabo Razi broke Nat Geo’s climbers, and their gear by Bill Schiffner
- Roots Rated: Hilaree O’Neill: Himalayas-Bound With Skis (and Sons) in Tow by Katie Klingsporn
- Powder: Shut Down on Everest Hilaree: O’Neill attempts to ski the highest mountain in the world during one of its worst seasons by Heather Hansman
- The Six Fifty: Above the clouds and beyond the brink with adventurer Hilaree O’Neill by Emily Olson
Notable People Discussed In Today’s Podcast
- Alex Honnold: professional free solo rock climber & podcast guest
- Mirna Valerio: ultramarathon runner, author, educator and podcast guest
- Conrad Anker: rock climber, mountaineer, author and podcast guest
- Renan Ozturk: rock climber, free soloist, mountaineer, visual artist, “Down To Nothing” videographer
- Taylor Freesolo Rees: climber, producer, environmental activist, “Down To Nothing” basecamp manager
- Emily Harrington: rock climber, adventurer & 5-time US National Champion in sport climbing
- Mark Jenkins: seasoned climber and contributing writer for National Geographic
- Cory Richards: National Geographic adventurer / expedition photographer and alpine climber
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy
- RRP #351: Alex Honnold: The Free Soul Of Free Solo Climbing
- RRP #340: Mirna Valerio Is A Beautiful Work In Progress
- RRP #170: Climber Conrad Anker On Suffering, Risk, Reward & The Allure Of Meru
- RRP #235: Colin O’Brady Shatters The Explorers Grand Slam World Record
- RRP #307: Big Mountain Skier Lynsey Dyer On Sport As Art
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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