My Story

NPR called me a 'badass for science' for my research and expeditions and I hope I can continue living up to that title. I'm the Founding Director of the Mountain Environments Research Institute at Western Washington University as well as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Climber Science Program. Through these groups, I further the goals of scientific exploration by bringing scientists, students, climbers, and local partners into the mountains and other remote locations of the world to conduct environmental research and engage in conservation activities.  I have been quoted about climate change on Mt. Everest by major media outlets globally – most recently in the Atlantic,  National Geographic, and the Washington Post.

While climbing in Nepal in 2014, I was struck by two life changing experiences.  First, part of my team was killed on Mt. Everest by an avalanche.  Then, mere weeks later, I fell into a 70-foot deep crevasse on Mt. Himlung as we tried to continue our high elevation scientific research after the tragedy. I broke 15 bones - including 6 vertebrae - severely dislocated my shoulder and was bleeding internally. Somehow I found the will to climb the overhanging ice walls completely alone - with only one arm.


Here is a short video that I put together that described my experience in Nepal during that climbing season (warning- graphic language). VIDEO

Here is the video I shot while climbing out of the crevasse - edited to remove the profanity. VIDEO

There was a great deal of press that surrounded my fall into the crevasse. Here are links to a selection...

BBCHimalaya TimesGood Morning America, the Today show, ABC newsCNN News , CBS News, People Magazine, Smithsonian, Times of India, Daily Mail (UK), Irish Independent, Climbing Magazine, Outside Magazine, reddit, and many, many more sites around the world...

Through these experiences and others, I gained the background to both conduct my climate change adaptation research and as a keynote and motivational speaker, inspiring groups of up to 6500 people...so far.