Georgina Miranda on Choosing Adventure

Banff, Canada. Happiest outside and visiting a part of Canada that was high on my bucket list.

My story…slowly but surely there is more comfort in telling it. I’ve had more joy in wild places, living in a tent for weeks/months at a time, being cold, having trouble breathing, and being stripped from modern day comforts- than within my city comforts. It’s here, without distractions, and without competition, but the one with myself that I connect to a part of myself that can easily get lost in the day to day.

When I think of fuel, fuel to go after dreams, I always think of my time on big mountains. It’s our inner fuel, fire, grit that keeps us going, that gives us the endurance that releases the smiles, even in times of suffering and discomfort. These mountains have taught me so much; they’ve helped me reveal to myself how strong I can be. They’ve taught me focus. They’ve taught me to block out noise. They’ve validated I do not fit in a box and that I do not need to conform to who I “should be”, but rather encouraged me to “just be.”

These experiences have redefined my reality-the girl that couldn’t run a mile 8 years ago can climb hella big mountains now and ski! Yes, I said hella 🙂 Here I stand today having climbed in 6 of the 7 continents and aiming to complete the Explorer Grand Slam by then end of 2017, a feat that approximately only 50 people have completed globally (7 summits and skiing the last degree of the North and South Pole).

Backcountry skiing in Tahoe, thrill seeking smiles!

I’m your unlikely mountaineer and athlete, but that’s been the best part of the journey. Doing things that are unlikely is part of the fun of the adventure and personal growth.

I grew up in LA and was brought up a “city girl” by my Nicaraguan mother and El Salvadorian father. I am the first in my immediate family to not only graduate from college, but also get a master’s degree. I was taught education was my ticket to a different life, not mountains and nature. In reality both were critical to my ticket to a different life. While I am super grateful that I got my “adventure” side from my dad, “adventure” was not a priority or something that was necessarily encouraged growing up.  It somehow always seemed to find me though, more so in my mid-twenties, thank goodness for that!

I often say adventure changes lives; and, I truly believe it, because it changed mine. I have climbed a lot of other “mountains” in my lifetime, from growing up with a manic depressive mother, surviving a painful divorce, breaking trail in the tech and outdoor industry, and climbing the biggest mountain of all: starting a company. In choosing adventure, I was able to heal from a lot of these experiences and also developed this awesome grit to power through the toughest of challenges in life. My prescription to the blues is a nature dose, which is far better than any antidepressant hands down!

It’s all of these factors that ultimately inspired me to start Altitude Seven, an adventure lifestyle media platform that helps a global community of women adventurers and travelers discover the best outdoor and adventure travel products, experiences, stories, and inspiration all in one place. The company’s brand was created for a new generation of outdoor, adventurous, and globetrotting women, with a mission: To Inspire and Equip Women to Live Adventurous, Bold, and Worldly Lives. It is spreading the global message for women to #ChooseAdventure. Inspiration struck atop of Denali in 2010 and the first iteration of Altitude Seven came to life in 2014.

Mt. Everest 2013 charity climb for International Medical Corps and raising awareness against gender-based violence. It had taken me 6 years to get to this point after a failed attempt in 2011 having to turn around due to hypoxia. Dreams come true if you never give up on them.

While the “shrink it and pink it” struggle is real in the outdoor industry (don’t worry, none of that in our store), there is a bigger issue, which is that the current “face of adventure” is not a true representation of all us badass ladies getting after it out there globally. Guess what? Women make up 50% of outdoor recreation participation and leading the way in terms of solo travel. Yet we still lack visibility across most media channels. When it comes to women of color and diverse body types, our representation is basically invisible. We are changing the face of adventure and committed to elevating the presence and visibility of women in adventure/action sports/travel media.

It’s been a crazy 8 years and my life has done a 180 in more ways than one. I am so grateful to discovering a love for adventure and setting new limits for myself beyond anything I “should have ever been.” It’s my mission now to share that gift with others.

 

“I climb big mountains everyday, just not always in crampons. Changing the face of adventure and tech has been the biggest climb of all!”

Georgina is the Founder of Altitude Seven, an adventure lifestyle media platform that helps a global community of women adventurers and travelers discover the best outdoor and adventure travel products, experiences, stories, and inspiration all in one place. She is a purpose driven entrepreneur, adventurer, speaker, and consultant. She has scaled the highest peak on 6 of the 7 continents and aiming to complete the Explorer Grand Slam in 2017. She’s an advocate for empowering women globally and loves pushing past personal limits and inspiring others to do the same. To learn more about Miranda, visit: GeorginaMiranda.com

 


Exploring Europe and the Outdoors – By Zoraida Martínez

This past Summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Spain to finish my undergraduate classes. I had never experienced living in another country for a month and it was such a thrill to be able to do this. I have traveled to Mexico to visit family and once to England when I was 12 on a trip with my teachers and peers. When I learned about this opportunity I jumped aboard without hesitation. I had a plan of what other countries and cities to visit; summer could not come soon enough.

On arrival to Madrid it was night thus nothing was very visible but the excitement and jitters were completely present. With a quick glance of the building around, I was able to tell that things were going to be very different. For example, the dormitories in Madrid had one thing that I had never seen in the United States, different trash bins to separate and organize the trash. One trash bin was used for cardboard and other recyclables (bottles, paper, plastic), one for compost (fruit peels, left over food and such), and the other for non-recyclable trash. I really love this concept because it trains students to recycle properly even if they were not really trying. I feel that in the United States people only pretend to recycle in order to stay in the “hip and now” of generational trends with things, but that is not how it should be.

20150705_125754One thing that was very noticeable and I completely loved was that there were so many parks within walking distance from wherever you are in the city. Even the smallest monument has a park around it and it is completely open to the public. During some of the trips we took as a class we would walk and explore the parks. Even traveling to nearby cities would be an exploration day rich in culture and history. On some weekends we would walk through parks in the city and enjoy an afternoon listening to live musical bands performing in these local parks. Maybe our lives in the United States are always so busy and non-stop that we do not get to enjoy the freshness of nature or the sound of music in our local parks, but once in a while we should just take a break to take all that in. I feel that the more we spend the day in the outdoors, the more we will feel connected to what makes us happy.

Our stay in Spain, while it was a whole month, felt completely short. I was fortunate enough to travel on weekends to outside cities. One weekend, about half of the group decided to go to Barcelona and I was amongst them. The city was incredible and not to mention how gorgeous La Sagrada Familia is inside and out! Park Güell is incredible as well and the views it provides for our enjoyment are magnificent! The fountains, architecture and everything that the local encompasses was just an experience that I will never forget. On a different weekend I had the opportunity to travel to San Sebastian, in Northern Spain. The view of the Atlantic Ocean is amazingly breathtaking! Not to mention their food and the wine Txakoli, only produced in the grandeur of the Basque Country. Everything I saw and experienced is something that I will never forget since the Spanish country has taught me a lot of who I am.

IMG_2212After my program ended, I traveled with six others to other countries to enjoy and learn more about what Europe has been through for centuries. The first country on the list was Italy where we visited Rome and Venice.  The sites are incredible in both cities! I had never imagined being able to see old architecture first hand like I did there and making these amazing monuments available to the public is great. Getting around the cities was very efficient due to the well thought-out transportation system. Even when there was heavy traffic in public transportation it was not a problem to get around by foot because most of the tourist attractions were within walking distance. Seeing ancient ruins has always fascinated me and learning about cultures and how they made their civilizations grow has made me fall in love with archeology over and over again. Why I never pursued this degree is beyond me, but my love for it is always there. One thing I completely loved is that the airport in Venice is powered by solar energy! More than half of the power comes from the sun and it is amazing to see how much other countries are moving forward with green energy.

The next country was France where we only visited Paris! As a girl coming from a big city and never really using public transportation, I thought that the transportation system was great. We used the trains all the time to get everywhere and when we felt even more adventurous, we would walk to sights that we wanted to see, even when they were miles away. I feel that walking to places gets people to see the city on a more personal level as apposed to zooming by on a train. The Eiffel Tower was everything and more! We even had the chance to visit the Palace of Versailles on the outskirts of Paris. The gardens are astonishing! We walked all day and ended up rowing a boat in the small lake at Versailles. I am excited to see what the UN conference will bring here next year! With the amount activities and locals in this amazing city, we did not want to leave, but the United Kingdom was calling our names.

IMG_3323The United Kingdom is a country that has always interested me. Since the first time I visited this country as a little girl, I fell in love with it! London was our landing port and we immediately got to exploring the vast city. The weather was beautiful refreshing compared to the heat of the previous cities. A light sweater was enough for us to keep of comfortable in the cool breeze of this cloudy city. The second day in the country we decided do a trip to Windsor Castle, Roman Bath, and Stonehenge. Although I have been to Bath and Stonehenge before, it never ceases to amaze me how beautiful it is. Walking around the castle in Windsor we saw peaceful gardens that were perfect to walk in and have a picnic at any time of the day. What can I say about Stonehenge? Nothing I can say will ever do its beauty justice. It is one of my favorite places in the world and I know that I would go back in an instant if I had the chance. It has a serene feeling to it that I can relax and just think and reflect with nothing but an majestic view in front of me.

Our last country was Ireland and I knew from the moment we landed that I was going to return one day to this country. The people were friendly and very welcoming to us everywhere we went. It was not difficult to get around the city and here we decided to walk everywhere since we wanted to take in the entire city of Dublin. The history of the sites we saw was amazing to me and the history of how many people had to leave their country because of a famine, broke my heart. We went to the west coast to see the Cliffs of Moher and let me say that I was completely mesmerized by the beauty nature has created. I was amazed by how much people in this country love tourists and to me this is what gets people to return. There is one thing that was unnatural to me because our appliances are different and their dryers had something unusual. The house in which we stayed had a dryer that would collect the moisture from the wet clothes in a container and one would have to physically empty out the container. I loved this idea because the water that collects can be used to water the garden, whereas in the United States the dryers evaporate the water or shoot it down the drain. I am completely in love with this country and I know I will return one day.

My trip was short but it is one that I will stay with me forever. The entire month and a half that I was abroad was an experience that I will forever cherish because of everything that I learned and saw. I loved all the sites and locations. I loved every country, every culture, and all the new things that I learned about all the places. I know that I will return to all the countries one day and I will travel vastly to explore all the beautiful places this planet has to offer. The outdoors, open spaces, parks, and land as it relates to cultural heritage is something I will always cherish every place I go.

 

Zoraida Martínez ~ Ambassador

zoraida@latinooutdoors.org

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Exploring Outdoors : Adventures in Highpointing ~ By Richard Rojas Jr.

One morning while I was at work, my old college roommate Justin sent me a text: “Let’s hike Mount Elbert…it’s in Colorado.” Since Justin is a serious high pointer (a hiker whose goal it is to reach the top of mountain peaks) and I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado, the idea immediately had my interest. “When?” I asked. “Mid summer…snow should be gone…best chance to summit” Justin replied.  My response was “Let’s do it!”

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved exploring remote outdoor places.  My parents used to take our family on annual camping trips that traversed California in search of forests, rivers, mountains and lakes.  As I got older, I sought out more remote and technical trips that challenged me to learn new skills.  So when my friend Justin decided to set a personal goal to climb the highest point of each U.S. state; aka become a highpointer, I let him know I wanted a piece of the action.

RRojasJr. Pic#3

According to his research, late summer was our best window for reaching the top of Mount Elbert.  Just a year earlier, Justin attempted the climb in early summer.  On that day the weather report called for clear skies.  However the high altitude of the Rockies is known for causing quick and dramatic changes to the weather.  Less than a half-mile from reaching the top, the blue skies became dark as thunder clouds formed over head.  A sudden lightning strike nearby signaled Justin to get off the mountain ASAP! Following the lead of other hikers around him, he dropped to his feet and slid down the snow-covered slope to the safety of a lower elevation.  In order to reach the top, he would have to return another day.

I took the few months of advance notice to prepare myself for the hike.  From my experience with hikes to Mount Whitney in California and Boundary Peak in Nevada, I’ve learned that when hiking above 13,000 feet, training is crucial for covering long distances and completing big elevation gains.  For me, this meant cardio workouts at the gym during lunch breaks.  On weekends with daddy duty my #1 priority, I made the time to hike local peaks and take my daughters Alessandra and Annabel on long walks in their double-stroller.  Ever try pushing a double-stroller loaded with two toddlers uphill?  It’s a good workout, take my word for it.

The weekend of our trip, my friend and I arranged to meet in Denver and drive together to the trailhead. We brought just enough gear to camp – sleeping gear, a tent, headlamps, hiking clothes, backpacks, water and lightweight trail food.  From insight we’ve gained from our collective experiences and fellow hikers, we have learned to trim our camping gear to the bare essentials for trips like these.  I was raised in a car camping family where canned food (Rosarita Refried beans, and Dinty Moore stew), full-sized cookware, fluffy sleeping bags, large coolers and the 8-person tent were necessities.  When we get together for a big family campout, many of these items still come along.  But on a challenging backpacking-style trip, packing light is key, so dehydrated meals, snack bars, dried fruit, trail mix and plenty of water are a must.

RRojasJr. Pic#2

The morning of the hike, we started before sunrise. As we walked along the dimly lit path, we relied upon our headlamps to guide our way.  Less than a mile on the trail, I started to feel a little doubtful about my training.  My pack seemed heavy, my head was pounding and I had to stop frequently to rest and catch my breath.  I reassured my friend that I was fine, but inside I was thinking that he would need to finish without me.  Fortunately, as we continued along and up the trail, I settled into a comfortable pace that lightened my load and lifted my spirits.

During our steady ascent, we passed picturesque sights – narrow rocky streams, dense aspen and pine tree groves, and lush grassy meadows dotted with bright-colored wildflowers.  I was amazed and reminded how much I enjoyed connecting with nature on a very basic level, and how I looked forward to sharing future hikes with my own family again soon.  Every so often, Justin and I took breaks to review our trail map and survey the path ahead.  We cautiously monitored the clouds above but as we climbed higher and higher, we both became fixated on making it to the top.

Near the base of the last ½ mile, the weather cooled and the winds picked up. This would have been the right time to put on gloves, except mine were back at home.  With each step, the air became colder and winds picked up.  Occasional gusts threw off our balance.  Pea-sized hail peppered our jackets and made my bare face numb.  I instinctively tied my handkerchief around my face to keep my nose and cheeks warm.  It was at this point that a part of me thought – it’s time to turn around.  But the steady upward march of the half dozen other hikers on the trail propelled us forward.

In complete awe at what mother nature was throwing at us, we were thrilled to reach the sign that read “Mt. Elbert, 14,439 feet.”  Out of respect for what could still come, Justin and I exchanged high-fives, took a few quick photos and then headed right back down the trail. We took solace knowing that our training and determination were enough for the mountain on that day.

RRojas Jr. Pic #1

For me, the best part of thinking back on a trip like this is knowing that you leave the experience better prepared to take on the next challenge.  Whether a distant mountain or some other exotic location, with my friend Justin or other company, I can’t wait to see what my next adventure has in store for me.

In addition to camping, hiking and “peak bagging” Richard Jr. enjoys fishing, biking, and playing team sports.  He also enjoys working as an Urban Planner in Los Angeles County and spending his weekends with his wife, daughters and extended family and friends. Someday he hopes to climb Mt. Rainier, camp in Yellowstone National Park, kayak in Palau and backpack in Europe.