Arlene Blum

Arlene Blum

Arlene Blum (born 1945) is an American mountaineer. She is best known for her all-woman ascent of Annapurna (I), a climb that was also the first successful American ascent. She also was a deputy leader of the first all-woman ascent of Mount McKinley and was the first woman to attempt to ascend Mount Everest.

tart in mountaineering

A native of Chicago, Blum was raised by Orthodox Jewish parents. In the early 1960s, she attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, a part of the country which presented her with an initial opportunity for a major ascent. Her first attempt was in Washington, where she failed to reach the summit of Mount Adams. However, she persevered, climbing throughout her college days. Writing her senior thesis on the topic of volcanic gases on Oregon's Mount Hood enabled her to go climbing as part of her research. Blum graduated from Reed and attended MIT and UC Berkeley, where she earned a Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry. After grad school, Blum embarked on what she called the "endless winter"—spending more than a year climbing peaks all over the world.

Major climbs

As deputy leader, Blum was part of the first all-woman team to ascend Alaska's Mount McKinley in 1970. She participated in a 1976 expedition up Mount Everest as part of the American Bicentennial Everest Expedition, but did not reach the summit. In 1978, she organized a team of ten women to climb Annapurna (I) in Nepal which, until then, had been climbed by only eight people (all men). They raised money for the trip in part by selling T-shirts with the slogan "A woman's place is on top". Two women from Blum's team made the summit on October 15, but two other women died two days later attempting the same feat. After the event, Blum wrote a book about her experience on Annapurna, called "Annapurna: A Woman's Place".

She led the first expedition to climb Bhrigupanth in the Indian Himalayas, leading a team of Indian and American women. She then attempted what she called the "Great Himalayan Traverse", a two-thousand-mile journey across the treacherous but beautiful peaks of the Himalayas from Bhutan to India. She crossed the Alps from Yugoslavia to France, bearing her baby Annalise on her back in a backpack.

Other activities

Arlene Blum is an impassioned feminist and outspoken advocate for mountaineering as a metaphor for life's challenges. She organizes Berkeley's annual Himalayan Fair and continues to write books about the challenges of mountaineering. She is also a participant in the activities of the progressive PAC

External links

* [ Arlene Blum's website]
* [ Article about Arlene Blum in Reed College Magazine]
* [ Interview with Arlene Blum for "Breaking Trail"]

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