Surviving the Seven Summits

(soft upbeat music) – Well, we’ll just figure it
out and do a little warm up. – [Narrator] Ski mountaineer
Kit Deslauriers is near Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. And here, she’s practicing
some of the skills she used while scaling the
worlds toughest mountains. In 2006, Kit became the
first person in history to climb and ski the Seven Summits, the highest amount peaks on ever content. – Ya hoo, I got the idea to climb and ski the Seven Summits when I was competing on the world free skiing tour. – [Narrator] But, setting this lofty goal was only the beginning. On any clam, Kit needs to
make sure she’s prepared both physically and mentally. So before taking her
first step on a mountain, Kit trains and plans well in advance, studying maps and images
to visualize her route. – I rely on mental maps
in the mountains a lot. I study maps, I study photos, I’m really into that visual thing, and then when I’m up
there, it’s like, okay, this next, and this next, and so you know, not unlike climbing on
this wall right here. – [Narrator] Using topographic maps, which highlight the natural
features, or topography, of a landscape, Kit relies
on knowledge of the terrain when navigating through the mountains. And for more complex landscapes, she uses advanced
navigation tools like GPS. – The main physical characteristics of the big mountains that I’ve climbed are that they’re the highest place in each of their topographical regions. So, they’re sparsely
populated, ’cause usually they’re really high altitude, and there’s not much water, and it’s not conducive
to humans living there. – [Narrator] Human beings
are not naturally adapted to survive at such extreme elevations. So, proper preparation
can be the difference between life and death. – The main thing that
makes Everest so difficult to climb is because it is so high. At 29,000 feet, it is 16,000 feet higher than even the Grand Teton
that we’re looking at here. And at that altitude it’s very difficult for the body to acclimatize. You can get sick, you can
get mentally fatigued, and then topographically, it’s still not an easy mountain to climb. – [Narrator] The rugged
mountain terrain presents unique challenges that
require different solutions. With every clam, Kit
realize on specialized tools to help her traverse the
harsh physical environments. – Climbing Everest, I put on crampons about 10 minutes outside of base camp for everything that I
climbed above 17,000 feet. So, that means 12,000 vertical feet, I was climbing in crampons. We definitely also need ice axes. These are just your basic snow travel, snow and ice travel tools. – [Narrator] Champions
and ice axes help climbers to grip icy surfaces,
allowing them to scale near vertical slopes. And, once you reach such high elevations, the body needs additional support to even function, like oxygen mask. – On Everest, we also used oxygen. This was worn over an
awful lot of clothing. You’ve got goggles and everything too. So, it’s really cumbersome. – [Narrator] Humans have learned to adapt to all sorts of environments. And, after years of
record breaking climbs, Kit now hopes to be an example that you can always push
yourself to aim higher. – We’re all capable of so much. So much more than we think, sometimes. (soft music)

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