When Kit Deslauriers stood on the summit of Mt. Everest in October 2006, she felt an indescribable happiness wash over her. She had finally stood on the summits of each of the tallest points on all seven continents.
â€œIt was one of the few times where I felt like crying,â€ Deslauriers, 39, said. â€œI felt amazingly happy, and it was amazingly rewarding. But I also felt weighted; I knew that I needed more than a half of a tank left.â€
This was because in addition to the arduous task of simply climbing Mt. Everest, to truly complete her goal, Deslauriers also had to ski down.
Deslauriers is the first person to have skied down the Seven Summits. But she has also skied first descents in mountains all over the world, competed in 250-mile road bike races, won the world championships in competitive freeskiing, started her own philanthropic organization and raised two kids.
â€œI do this simply because I love being outside,â€ Deslauriers said. â€œI love being on skis, and I love being in the mountains. Iâ€™m never going to stop.â€
Tonight at 7 p.m., Deslauriers will give a free presentation in the Lory Student Center Theater as part of the North Face Never Stop Exploring Speaker series, which connects outdoor enthusiasts with athletes sponsored by North Face.
Deslauriers will discuss her assault of the Seven Summits, her recent expedition to the Brooks Range in Alaska and the challenges of being a mother and a mountaineer.
â€œThe Brooks Range was probably one of the most amazing expeditions that Iâ€™ve been a part of,â€ Deslauriers said. â€œIt was this incredible, remote, massive ecosystem with this astounding silence that Iâ€™ve never before experienced.â€
She lists her other favorite expedition as her 1999 trip to Mt. Belukha in Siberia, where she met her husband, Rob Deslauriers, who was also on an expedition up the peak. He was with her on five of the seven summits, including Everest.
Currently, the Deslauriersâ€™ and their two daughters live in Teton Village, Wyoming, where Deslauriers does training runs on the Grand Tetons and at Jackson Hole.
â€œMy training is very seasonal,â€ Deslauriers said. â€œI always have objectives at different times of the year … Youâ€™ve got to leave nothing to chance when youâ€™re preparing for really big peaks; no matter what, thereâ€™s always a lot at stake.â€
Deslauriersâ€™ advice for aspiring mountaineers boils down to one thing: extensive preparation.
â€œYouâ€™ve got to force your body and mind to react in the long term to a very demanding environment,â€ Deslauriers said. â€œYou donâ€™t want anything unexpected to happen when youâ€™re in a very exposed environment. You want to push the boundaries, sure, and try to make whatever you do epic, but the number one thing in mountaineering is to avoid the drama.â€
Deslauriers discovered her passion for skiing at a young age when her parents took her on a vacation to Telluride.
While pursuing her degree at the University of Arizona, Deslauriers obtained a scholarship at the National Wilderness Leadership School to spend a semester in Alaska and spent time modeling in Europe so that she could further her skiing ability.
After college, she moved to Telluride, where she lived for 10 years and worked as a ski patroller.
â€œIâ€™m always going to be a Rocky Mountain girl at heart,â€ Deslauriers said. â€œIâ€™m never going to be an indoor person.â€
Outdoor Life Beat Reporter Allison Sylte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.