My first memories involve spending long days outside exploring the woods and cornfields around my childhood home with my dog and Sister.  These explorations were all at sea level as the highest point in my home state of Illinois is 1,235 feet.  Gradually my explorations led me to Seattle where the allure of Mt. Rainier drew me to the mountains.  After standing on its summit in 2009, I knew that mountaineering would become a significant part of my life.  I am still drawn to the physical and mental challenge of mountaineering and I relish the sense of accomplishment that comes with a successful climb, even if it doesn't include the summit.  

In the mountains I learned resilience, and self reliance, and built my confidence as a climber and as a woman.  My strength, and confidence were tested when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.  Through treatments and surgeries I drew upon the things that I had learned as a climber - to focus on what I could control, to surround myself with a strong team, and to keep moving forward even when things felt bleak.  While I was fighting cancer, the mountains took on a broader meaning for me as I also found tremendous healing there. 

Beating cancer provoked me to evaluate the trajectory of my life, and in 2016 I made the excruciating and terrifying decision to put my secure, hard-earned corporate career on hold in order to pursue other passions.

Today, I am grateful to enjoy a life of mountain climbing, writing and speaking.  I am inspired by sharing with others the story of how climbing gave me the strength to beat cancer. 

 

 

See Lisa in Capturing Everest, an immersive virtual reality documentary that debuted in May 2017.

 

Capturing Everest Virtual Reality: Follow complete climb of Mt. Everest

Watch the first complete virtual reality climb of Mount Everest.


 

THE NEXT CHALLENGE: K2

 
 

Through climbing, through my corporate career, throughout my life, really, I have always endeavored to challenge myself, to broaden my experience and expertise.  This spirit lead me to the Himalaya for the first time in 2015, and all the way to the summit of Mt. Everest in 2016.  

On Everest in 2016, I learned a lot about the human spirit.  I learned that both my body and my mind are stronger than I could ever imagine, and that despite cancer and significant life changes, I could accomplish seemingly unimaginable goals.  After summiting Everest, I naturally began contemplating my next mountaineering objective. 

K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, it is on the remote China-Pakistan border.  Summiting K2 is much more challenging than Everest's standard routes.  K2 is notorious for fickle weather, avalanches, and rock fall.  It has also not been summited by an American woman.  The Italian climber Maraini Fosco's description captures the essence of K2:

...just bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss.  It makes no attempt to sound human.  It is atoms and stars.  It has the nakedness of the world before the first man - or of the cindered planet after the last.

Two things led me to set K2 in Pakistan as my next mountaineering objective:

I have a strong desire to continue to expand my climbing experience and to continue learning about myself and the human spirit by testing myself in more challenging environments; and breaking boundaries for women by accomplishing something that an American woman has not is exhilarating to me.

 

Mountaineering Achievements

 

I have been fortunate to stand on top of many of the world's most beautiful mountains including :

2016

    •    Mt. Everest (Nepal) - 29,035 feet via the southeast ridge - May 19

2015

    •    Mt. Baker (US) - 10,781 feet via north ridge - May 25

    •    Manaslu (Nepal) - via northeast ridge - camp 3, 22,310 feet -  expedition canceled due to avalanche risk

2014

    •    Vinson (Antarctica) - 16,067 feet via Branscomb glacier - January 5

    •    Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) - 19,341 feet via the northern circuit - October 24

2012

    •    Denali (US) - 20,320 feet via west buttress - June 28

    •    Grand Teton (US) - 13,770 feet via the complete Exum - July

2011

    •    Aconcagua (Argentina) - 22,841 feet via the Polish variation - March 8

2010

    •    Mt. Elbrus (Russia) - 18,510 feet via normal route - August 9

2009

    •    Mt. Rainier (US) - 14,410 feet via disappointment cleaver - July 

 

Numerous climbs in the Pacific Northwest including multiple Rainier ascents, Mt. Shuksan, Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams and other peaks in the Cascades.