Melissa Arnot Reid
Mountaineer and guide Melissa Arnot Reid is one of the only women regulars in the high-testosterone world of Everest climbing. She has summited the peak six times, and she became the first American woman to complete the climb without supplemental oxygen. It took three previous attempts, 14 hours of climbing, 15 minutes at the summit, and eight hours of descent to complete what only now seven women in the world have achieved.
“I am incredibly proud of what I did on Everest,” Arnot Reid reflects on her oxygen-free ascent. “It was a longtime goal, and I worked really hard to achieve it. I am still just so grateful I got to grow and learn on that mountain.”
In 2013 she helped deescalate the notorious Everest “fight” between Western climbers Simone Moro, Ueli Steck, and Jon Griffith and the Nepali mountain workers. But her work as a bridge between Western and Nepalese cultures had already begun.
In 2010, after Arnot Reid lost her climbing partner and friend, Chhewang Nima Sherpa, on an expedition to summit 23,390-foot Baruntse, she figured out a way to give back. She is the co-founder and now president of the Juniper Fund, which provides financial assistance to families of mountain workers hurt or killed while supporting climbers. They are now helping 39 families and four businesses.
And Arnot Reid continues to find ways to give back by mentoring the next generation of women climbers. Last year she teamed up with then 21-year-old Maddie Miller to climb all the highest points in the U.S. in 41 days, a record.
“I have been so lucky to get to climb and learn about climbing from some great mentors, so I really think it’s my duty to pay it forward,” says Arnot Reid. “Seeing young people find a passion in the outdoors reignites my own passion.”