January's Coveted Stone: Garnet
At age 26, Liz became the youngest Canadian to climb the Seven Summits of the world-the highest mountains of each continent. This feat has only been accomplished by around 400 people worldwide and requires not only an astonishing amount of training but the tenacity one could only dream of possessing. Like so many young college graduates, Liz was overwhelmed with what the future held. Desperate for an adventure and some semblance of direction, a father-daughter hike to climb Kilimanjaro led to what would become an eleven-day blizzard on Denali, enduring the frigid cold of Antarctica, and overcoming an unruly battle with altitude to summit Mount Everest. Humbled by each summit, Liz learned that sometimes just saying yes can help you get through the lowest valleys and reach the highest summits.
Q: This past year you published your book Written In The Snow, in which you tell your remarkable story. Now that you’re an Amazon best seller will you continue in the path of storytelling?
A: Absolutely! I love inspiring people to challenge themselves and find what they are passionate about. I was asked to speak with a group of students in design school later this month about their current project. I look forward to sharing my experiences with them and hopefully help navigate their approach. I’ve also thought about writing a second book…but not quite yet!
Q: It’s amazing that climbing initially began as a hobby you started with your parents. If you could take them on another adventure, what would it be?
A: Getting to share the new experience of climbing with my parents was one of the most special and memorable parts of my whole journey. It’s incredible how trying something new can set your life on a totally unexpected path. If I could pick any adventure to take my parents on, I would go to Antarctica with them. It was one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen and I would love to share the untouched beauty with them.
Q: What creature comfort did you find yourself daydreaming about when you were on your expeditions?
A: Everything! Being in harsh conditions for an extended period of time really made me appreciate the little things in life. A bed, toilet, fireplace and my all of my favourite foods! A lot of times I'd catch myself planning my welcome home meal in the middle of an expedition.
Q: What was harder for you, climbing Everest or writing your book?
A: Well, they both had their moments of stress and tears but I would have to say Everest! The lessons I learned on Everest, such as perseverance, really helped me with writing the book. Breaking things down into small, manageable goals was really helpful for both of these “summits”.
Q: When you have been faced with truly threatening circumstances on a climb or even when navigating everyday difficulties, how do you summon the strength to face them?
A: I try to embrace any challenge that is thrown at me. The suffering is one of my favourite parts of climbing…if it was easy, everyone would do it. I try to focus about what’s on the other side of the suffering - coming home safe to my family and friends. If I am having a hard day on an expedition, I lean on others for support. It's amazing how kind words from a friend can give you so much strength. On all my climbs I brought letters from friends and family to open at different points throughout my journey.
Q: Garnet is a stone the generates boldness, so on the topic of bravery - what does bravery feel like for you? When you started climbing, did your body just say “yes, this is it”?
A: Bravery to me is trying something new. Before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I had never climbed anything or even owned hiking boots for that matter. Saying yes to this new adventure completely changed my life. I didn’t let fear or doubt hold me back. Climbing didn’t come easy to me. The altitude and long days were incredibly physically and mentally draining, but I believed in myself and pushed myself, and that's why I feel like I was able to reach my goals.
Q: You've been very active with your fundraising efforts with the Canuck's Place Children's Hospice, even dedicating your 7th summit to fundraise for the foundation. What has been your greatest lesson from the kids at Canuck's Place?
A: The kids at Canuck Place are heroes to me. They are dealing with life-threatening illnesses and still wake up with a smile on their faces. They have taught me to grasp everything life has to offer and that every day we have is truly a blessing. They constantly inspire me and I feel so fortunate to have gotten to meet some of them.
Q: What is next for the one of the best mountaineers in Canada? Where do you goal set from here?!
A: I am currently training to become a Fire Fighter! I am so excited to be able to combine my passion for helping people with the adrenaline rush of pushing myself. I think many aspects of the climbing world will translate well to the fire service. I still hope to keep climbing and exploring the world, too.