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10 Famous, Fearless, & Inspirational Female Adventurers

Friday, November 9th, 2018

There have been countless female adventurers across the ages. Whether they were heading off on their adventures yesterday or hundreds of years ago, their stories remain inspirational and educational. Below, I’ve looked at 10 of the most famous female adventurers. Learn from and get inspired by their stories, and maybe you’ll become the next great female explorer.

Historical Female Adventurers

Jeanne Baré

Jeanne Baré dressed as a sailor

Jeanne Baré was a trailblazer. Not only was she the first woman to complete a circumnavigation of the globe, she did so at a time when women were restricted from even going on an adventure.

Born in 1740, in the Burgundy region of France, she became an adventurer through employment as an assistant to the French naturalist, Philibert Commerçon. Commerçon traveled the globe for his work, and Baré followed as his valet and assistant.

In order to travel with Commerçon, Baré had to dress as a man – though, Commerçon knew she was a woman, having been involved in a romantic relationship with her. This means that not only did Baré risk her life by visiting far off lands, she risked it because it was illegal for women to travel on expeditions as she did.

Isabella Bird

Isabella Bird

Isabella Bird was born in Yorkshire, UK, (1831) but traveled solo across the globe. During her lifetime she is known to have visited China, Korea, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Kurdistan, India, Persia, Morocco, Turkey, North America, and Hawaii. This makes her easily one of the most traveled women of her time.

Bird isn’t just famous for being a great adventurer. She’s also the first woman to be elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, the UK’s professional body and learned society for geography.

Though she suffered from insomnia, problems with her spine, and nervous headaches from childhood, Bird was assured and outspoken throughout her life. She was a keen reader and it was this that opened up her eyes to the wonders that existed beyond the UK.

In 1854, Bird was advised by her physician to take a sea voyage. She sailed to the US and never looked back from her spirit of adventure. It was this spirit that kept Bird travelling throughout her life, for she remained in ill health until she died in 1904 – just after returning from Morocco and while planning a trip to China.

Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz

Krystyna Chojnowski-Liskiewicz was the first woman to sail around the globe alone

Polish sailor Krystyna Chojnowska-Liskiewicz holds the honor of completing a grueling, 401 day and 31,166 nautical mile trip before any other woman, making her the first female adventurer to sail solo around the world.

She used a 31.2 ft. long Conrad 32 sloop (a sailboat with one mast) called Mazurek to complete her journey. Mazurek was built by a team led by Chojnowska-Liskiewicz’s husband.

Chojnowska-Liskiewicz set off on her journey on February, 28, 1976, sailing from the Canary Islands. Having spent more than a year a sea, Chojnowska-Liskiewicz returned to her homeland on April, 21, 1978 – less than two months before Naomi James became the second woman to sail solo around the globe.

Annie Edson Taylor

Annie Edson Taylor posed with her barrel

Annie Edson Taylor went on quite a different adventure than our other famous female adventurers. While she did travel, it was over a considerably shorter, though no less terrifying, distance.

One of eight children, Taylor was born in New York (1838) to a flour mill owner. Training as a schoolteacher, Taylor later opened a dance school in Michigan, before becoming a music teacher. However, none of her educational ventures provided her with the financial reward and security she craved.

Taylor decided that the only way she could get these things was to become a famous female adventurer. She sought the necessary equipment and carried out tests before determining that she was ready for her adventurer. And so, on October, 24, 1901, Taylor climbed into a barrel, was dropped into the Niagara River and was carried over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. It made her the first person ever to survive a barrel fall over the Niagara Falls.

Modern Female Adventurers

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner

Austrian nurse, speaker, and mountaineer, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner is a modern-day female adventurer and winner of the 2012 National Geographic Explorer of the Year Award. She’s also the first woman to climb all 14 mountains over 8,000 meters (26,247 ft) without the aid of supplementary oxygen.

Born in 1970, she was a prodigious climber, having been on a number of tours by the time she reached her teens. Though she completed her nursing training, working as a nurse for a number of years, she never stopped climbing. This led her to become a professional mountaineer in 2004.

She climbed her first eight-thousander, Cho Oyu (found on the border of China-Nepal), in 1998 before climbing:

  • Makalu: 2001
  • Manaslu: 2002
  • Nanga Parbat: 2003
  • Annapurna I: 2004
  • Gasherbrum I: 2004
  • Shisha Pangma: 2005
  • Gasherbrum II: 2005
  • Kangchenjunga: 2006
  • Broad Peak: 2007
  • Dhaulagiri: 2008
  • Lhotse: 2009
  • Mount Everest: 2010

Kaltenbrunner climbed the final eight-thousander, K2 (located on the border of China and Pakistan) on August, 23, 2011.

Sunny Stroeer

Sunny by name and sunny by outlook, the free spirited Suzanne ‘Sunny’ Stroeer took a radical approach to turning 30. She gave up her material possessions and swapped the life she’d known for one as an adventurer.

Moving into an Astrovan, Stroeer is a mountain fanatic who loves big walls and is addicted to being vertical. While she may have given up on her material possessions, Stroeer hasn’t turned her back on society. Stroeer has a popular blog and Instagram account, where keeps her many thousands of followers updated with her adventures on a regular basis.

In 2017, Stoeer became the first woman to circumnavigate and summit Aconcagua in a single push, also breaking the base camp-to-summit female speed record by 29 minutes, all with a respiratory infection.

Hilaree Nelson O’Neill

Hilaree O'Neill - one of our female adventurers

Hilaree pulling first aid supplies out of the Ultralight/Watertight Pro. Photo Credit: Chris Figenshau

She may be a self-confessed ‘small person’ but Hilaree Nelson O’Neill is a female with a huge spirit for adventure. In fact, it’s so big that it’s taken her skiing and climbing to some of the most remote mountains on the planet.

She had an early start as an adventurer, picking up skiing when she was just three and waiting little longer to start climbing. However, it was after moving to the Chamonix Valley of France that her adventurer bug became a full-blown infection.

The result of that infection has seen O’Neill become the first woman to climb two 8,000m mountains in 24 hours (Lhotse and Everest), ski from the summit of Cho Oyu in Tibet, complete a ski descent of the Peak of Evil in India, and be named one of the most adventurous females on the planet by Outside Magazine

Jessica Watson

What were you doing when you were 16? I’m sure it was something daring, educational, and inspirational. But I bet it wasn’t as adventurous as what Jessica Watson was doing when she was 16, which is when Watson completing a solo circumnavigation of the southern hemisphere.

Watson travelled 19,631 nautical miles, beginning and ending in Sydney. It took the young Australian just under 7 months to complete her journey, having departed on October, 18, 2009 and returned on May, 15, 2010.

Cassie DePecol

How many countries have you been to? 5, 10, 20, 50? You might have visited plenty more than me but I bet you don’t get close to Cassie DePecol. Before she turned 28, DePecol had visited 196 nations.

196 countries isn’t just a lot of places to visit; it’s every sovereign nation on the planet.  DePecol set out on her travels on July 24, 2015. It took her less than 18 months for her to visit all 196 nations, as she visited the final country on February, 2, 2017.

This makes DePecol a double Guinness World Record holder, as she holds the record for:

  • Fastest time to visit all sovereign countries
  • Fastest time to visit all sovereign countries – Female

You might have some way to go to make it to the full 196 countries (heck, you might never get there) but let Cassie DePecol’s story inspire you and book your next adventure today!

Juliana Buhring

Last (but certainly not least of our female adventurers) is British-German writer and ultra-endurance cyclist Juliana Buhring. Not only was she the sole female to participate in the maiden Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul in 2013, she was the first woman circumnavigate the globe by bike.

Born in Greece, Buhring was abandoned by her parents when she was four and moved from guardian to guardian – she lived in nearly 30 countries during her childhood.

Buhring set off on her record-breaking cycle run on July, 23, 2012, leaving from Naples without having any support or sponsorship, and almost no money to fund herself – she was only able to complete her trip after receiving donations.

Just 152 days after setting off, Buhring returned to Naples. She had cycled through 19 countries, across, 4 continents, and covered 18,000 miles. It was just reward that she was entered into the Guinness Book of Records.

Your Turn!

By taking inspiration from these famous female adventurers, you can embark on your own journeys and become the next famous female adventurer.

With the advent of Skype, Google Hangouts, and Slack making it easier for you to enjoy locationless living, you don’t have to uproot your life to fuel your love of adventure — simply move it to your current destination.

You are free to embark on adrenaline-soaked activities or become a trailblazer by visiting somewhere no one has ever set foot – like one of these places:

Even you don’t fancy going 10,994 meters (36,000 ft) beneath the sea and prefer more casual trips, just heading out on an adventure can help you to be more confident – as Caroline Paul explains in this TED Talk:

Whatever your chosen adventure, let these female adventurers inspire you to challenge yourself, get outdoors, and be safe!

About the Author

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and marketing insights. Check out Micro Startups’ Charity of the Month to find out about organizations doing great work in/around/and for their communities . Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

Hilaree O’Neill: Remote Expeditioning with Adventure® Medical Kits

Thursday, December 21st, 2017

Skier, climber, mother, and the first woman to climb Everest and Lhotse in a single 24-hour period, Hilaree O’Neill is an adventurer like no other! This spring, Hilaree accomplished her personal goal of climbing and skiing the “Peak of Evil,” a 21,165-foot mountain in the Indian Himalayas. Her team is the first party to ever complete a ski descent of the mountain. We asked Hilaree what the experience was like and how she prepared for the expedition. Here’s what she said: 

“From a Skier’s Perspective, Papsura Was Absolutely Perfect”

For most of my adult life, I have been a professional adventurer. Climbing, skiing, and generally clinging to the side of big mountains has always been my medium of choice. Often to access many of the places my passion leads, myself and my partners must be well versed in self-reliance. Expedition-style travel is especially tricky to plan for due to the length and remoteness of the undertaking.

Just this last May, I returned to a mountain that I had long been obsessed with in a very remote region of the Indian Himalayas. Along with two partners, I set out for a month-long journey to climb and ski Papsura Peak, aka the Peak of Evil. I had first seen the twin peaks of Papsura and Dharamsura back in 1999, on my very first expedition. From a skier’s perspective, Papsura, the taller of the two peaks, was absolutely perfect. This last May was my second attempt on the Peak of Evil and my 5th expedition to this region of India.

Photo Credit: Jim Morrison

It was about a four day walk to get from the nearest village to the mountain’s basecamp at 14,000 ft. From there, it was another 8,000 ft and nearly two weeks of acclimatizing and route-finding to reach the summit.

So How Does One plan for Such a Trip?

One of the first, and most important, things to consider is your medical kit. There must be some balance between being your first and best source of medical treatment should something go wrong and packing a manageable weight and bulk, as well as the effectiveness and accessibility of your supplies.

This is where Adventure® Medical Kits comes into the picture…

Prior to any expedition, I will take several different parts of my medical kits, pull everything out, and compile them into 2 to 3 different systems. In the case of our Papsura Expedition, I doubled down with Adventure® Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight Pro, as I knew we had porters to assist with our gear all the way to basecamp, and therefore we could have the relative luxury of a very extensive kit. From there, however, we were on our own.

Photo Credit: Chris Figenshau

At that point, we left behind the bigger medical resources at basecamp and brought individual smaller kits like the Ultralight/Watertight .7 that each of us carried all the way to our high camp. The experience I had in the area from my previous trips helped me know how to narrow down not only our supplies, equipment, but even our route to such an extent that we were able to laser focus on the objective at hand: a remote 3000ft, 50 plus degree face of snow and ice at high altitude.

When it came time for our summit push, we planned on paring our kits down even further to just one fist-sized medical kit, the Ultralight/Watertight .5, that would go in one of our packs as group medical supplies.

Of course, at each point along the climb we would further specialize what we carried with us based not only on size and weight, but also on being able to treat the most likely type of injuries, given our activities. For example, the trauma pack and the C-splint would make it all the way to high camp, while the burn pads, allergy meds, and bulk of the blister kit might get left at basecamp. The summit kit would include ibuprofen and other altitude meds augmented from the pharmacy at home, steri-strips, a single Survive Outdoors Longer® Survival Blanket, plus maybe the trauma pack and tape. We would rely on our ice axes or ski poles to fill the need of a C-splint, and extra clothing to act as tourniquets or slings should there be a need.

Of course, it’s impossible to plan for everything so, again, it’s a balance, and the best case scenario is to never have to use any of it. Fortunately, the most use we got out of our medical kits were the ibuprofen, lots of blister stuff mostly for our porters, along with triple antibiotic and the occasional Easy Access Bandage®!

On May 15th, We Went for It.

 

Photo Credit: Jim Morrison

Without a doubt, our trip to the summit proved to be one of the most intense and committing climbs I have ever done. For two weeks, we pushed hard every day until we felt we were ready to tackle the west face in single day push.

We arose in the darkness at 3am. We started the climb two hours later and moved continuously up the face for 9 hours before we finally reached the first reasonable spot to take off our packs and rest – this spot happened to be about 50 feet below the summit. After a long pause where we drank and ate and waited for the monsoonal clouds to lift, we finally tagged the summit and started our ski descent. While conditions were amazing for climbing, they were pretty rugged for skiing, and our descent took another 4 hours. All in all it was about a 20 hour day.

Photo Credit: Jim Morrison

By the time we crawled into our sleeping bags, we were exhausted – tapped both physically and mentally.  It took a few days of recovery for the enormity of our effort to be fully appreciated.  We were the first Americans to summit Papsura Peak and the first party to ever complete a ski descent of the mountain. More importantly though for me, I had stuck with my obsession and seen it through to the end!

 

Photo Credit: Chris Figenshau

About Hilaree O’Neill

The first woman to climb both Everest and Lhotse in a single 24-hour period, Hilaree O’Neill’s mountain adventures led Outside Magazine to name her one of the most adventurous women in the world of sports. For Hilaree, skiing is the gateway to possibility. She started skiing at age 3 at Steven’s Pass in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. She took a leap of faith shortly after graduating from Colorado College and moved to Chamonix, France, where she was introduced to the world of big mountain skiing and climbing. From there, the place for Hilaree was anywhere she could cut turns on mountain slopes: volcanoes in the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia, in Mongolia, India, Lebanon, and first descents of the tight couloirs of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.

Between expeditions, Hilaree O’Neill spends her time as a mother, adventuring with her two sons. In addition, her writing has been published in National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic’s “The Call of Everest”, the Ski Journal, Outside Journal, and several other publications. Hilaree continues to travel the globe, always looking for new ski objectives and honest suffer-fests.