Ladies. Tell me. Tell me the accomplishments deep within your belly that you yearn for and wish to achieve. Tell me what makes you tick, what pushes you, what drives you to succeed in life and feel fulfilled. Tell me what makes you happy, complete, mighty and hungry for even more challenge! Can you answer all of this?
For some of us, the answers will hit us like crashing lightning bolts and we’re running with that hot electricity pumping through our veins from the get go to the bitter end. For another part of us though, we may not be so sure. That’s OK. If you’re finding yourself in this particular camp with a little drizzle trickling from the sky, you’re not the only one. Rest assured, your passion is alive and well: it just may have taken a diversion. It’s never too late to dive deep within your belly, seek it out and be what you want to be. Masha Gordon, a 42-year-old mighty Mum of two, is currently grabbing her passion by the balls by being on course to become the fastest women to complete the Explorers’ Grand Slam Challenge!
It’s a gruelling one for sure but oh my is it epic! The Explorers Grand Slam is the ultimate endurance challenge. Not only does Masha have to climb the Seven Summits – the highest mountain in each continent – she also has to trek on skis to the North and South Poles too. Amazingly, Masha has completed five of the peaks already having started in October 2015 AND she’s been, done and got the t-shirt for the South Pole! What a woman!
Mount Everest is the tallest mountain on earth and the highest in Asia, standing at 29,035 feet. Lying between the border of Tibet and Nepal, winds can reach to over 100mph here and along with avalanches, glaciers and a good old dose of altitude sickness, it’s a toughie.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest in Africa at 19,340 feet. Lying in Tanzania close to the Equator, the mountain allows you to experience 5 distinct climate zones as you ascend it!
Denali in Alaska, North America stands at 20,320 feet. Everest may be the biggest but Denali is known as the toughest due to its notorious gnarly year-round weather.
Aconcagua sits within Argentina and is considered safe to climb despite standing at 22,841 feet tall as the routes are nice as pie.
Vinson is the highest mountain in Antarctica at 16, 050 feet and the coldest out of all the seven summits brrr! The only way to get to it is by ski plane too! Toughie but a goodie!
Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia has near vertical slopes above a steamy hot jungle down below. It’s 16,024 feet tall and yep, it really does look like a pyramid!
Elbrus last but not least stands proudly in Russia at 18,510 feet. It’s a dormant volcano and the tallest in Europe!
If this isn’t enough to get your heart racing, Masha is determined to set a world record by becoming the fastest women to complete The Explorers’ Grand Slam Challenge in 8 months! She is on course to finish her inspirational challenge in June this year and this April, she’s facing the biggest monsters of them all – Everest and the North Pole – in just 6 weeks!
Only two other people have completed the Explorer’s Grand Slam Challenge in under a year and just 45 in total. The current female world record title holder Vanessa O’Brien completed the record in 11 months.
As a young girl, Masha hated P.E at school, shuddered at having to ride a bike and was unable to run 5km by the age of 31 without being out of breath. Whilst on maternity leave in her 30s, she discovered a love of mountaineering after a friend invited her to join her on a climb during a visit to France. For someone who had spent her life behind a desk as an investment fund manager, something clicked and that passion deep inside her burst out for sure! Whether you’re a young woman, rolling in your thirties or enjoying your golden years, it’s never too late to be who you want to be! Go get it tiger!
There are reasons why you, me, our friends and our family may have passions that have gone MIA. According to the US Journal of Pediatric Psychology, parents are four times more likely to tell girls to ‘be more careful’ than boys. Young girls, being wrapped up in cotton wool and made to believe they do not have the same ability as boys, are falling behind in going for it and facing challenges. Risk taking is important. If you don’t reach for the unknown, how are you ever going to discover anything for yourself and learn the truth? No more cotton wool please! Young women are dropping out of sports and their body image is suffering. Society needs to change.
our passion just may be mountaineering and conquering the highest peaks in the world like Masha but maybe it is something completely different you have not yet unearthed! The answer? Seize every opportunity that comes your way and accept challenges you at first may consider too big.
Teacake is currently preparing to undertake her own personal challenge by driving from the UK to Mongolia in 50 days across 21 countries to document womens’ rights with the Mongol Rally and Team #WeLive.
Masha cares about women finding their passions and wants to inspire other women to take up challenges that were unimaginable to them before. She’s determined to help girls take up outdoor activities to build their self-confidence and mental resilience. How? She’s in the process of setting up a charity ‘Grit & Rock’ so teenage girls in deprived areas can take up mountaineering as a way to build grit and other leadership qualities. Make sure to check Grit and Rock out!