Pioneering their trade |

Pioneering their trade

Provided to the SunArlene Blum rappels down an ice face in the lightly falling snow after the first ascent of 16,500-foot Mount Shiva in Kashmir.

Sponsored by local nonprofit READ Global, Breaking Boundaries is an ongoing series that highlights exceptional individuals from around the globe. Their inspirational stories show what can be accomplished when the indomitable human will is tested and what it takes to change the world.The first event in this series takes place Friday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m. in the Prim Library at Sierra Nevada College. The theme of the event is Breaking the Boundaries in Womens Mountaineering and feature speakers include Arlene Blum and Kasha Rigby, two pioneering mountaineers from different generations.Both women were very enthusiastic to participate, READ Global Founder and Board Chairperson Toni Neubauer said. Arlene Blum is a current advisory board member for READ Global and Kasha is an advocate for bringing libraries and literacy to rural villages. Their global travels have shown them how important programs like READ are in creating community empowerment and raising individuals out of poverty.Blum has played a groundbreaking role in womens mountaineering, having held a leading role in more than 20 mountain expeditions worldwide. In 1978, she led a team of 10 women in the first American ascent of Annapurna I (26,500 feet), a difficult and dangerous Himalayan giant. Blums slides and personal narrative portray the major psychological and organizational challenges she overcame in putting together the expedition, leading the climb through storms and avalanches to the triumph of the summit, and dealing with the tragic deaths of two of her team members.Rigby is considered the best female telemark skier in the world and is a member of the North Face Athlete Team. Doors opened by women like Blum have allowed Rigby to ski all over the U.S., Canada, South America, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and even the Middle East. She will give insight into this life of adventure, offering tribute to the amazing places shes touched and the women and teammates who made it possible.In addition to the talks the women will be giving on their remarkable experiences, the event will feature live music by Cool River Trio, appetizers, a cash bar and a variety of special raffle items including an REI tent, a weekend stay at the upscale Hotel Rex in San Francisco, a full day kayak excursion, local restaurant gift certificates and much more.Local businesses have been very supportive of the event and have generously donated items to raise funds for READ, Neubauer said.READ Global, an award-winning nonprofit, is breaking the barriers to global literacy and sustainable community development by pairing nonprofit libraries with for-profit businesses. All proceeds from the event will go toward supporting the organizations mission.Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Call (775) 832-5032 to reserve tickets. For more information about this event, the Breaking Boundaries series or READ Global, contact Kate Fenner at

Editor’s note: Sun News Service Web editor Morgan Kriz interviewed Breaking Boundaries guest speakers Arlene Blum and Kasha Rigby via e-mail. Here’s what Blum had to say.What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?Rigby: Greatest accomplishment is always a difficult question to answer. There is not one summit that I say is the most critical but more the successful assemblage of teams and teamwork in the mountains. The entire journey the approach, the safe return and positive interactions with the people and environments that we pass through and experience are most important. My goal is always to go and come back a complete team with friendships and limbs attached.I have been on dozens of expeditions all over the world with amazing teams and this creates my dearest friends and family. My best friend and I did ski off the summit of an 8,000-meter peak together.Have you been to Tahoe before? Have you been to (the North Shore)?Rigby: I have been to Tahoe many times mostly to ski but to climb, etc. in the summer. I remember a fabulous tour out of Incline Village that dropped onto the lake practically maybe called the bear claw or bear scratch?Have you completed your life goal? Rigby: No life and goals are ever changing and expanding/shifting. When you reach one there is always another.What is your life goal? Rigby: To leave a wake of peace and effect my planet in a profound and positive way. Well, while I am asking for a planet with happy, healthy, and peaceful people, animals and environment. What motivates you?Rigby: The knowledge that we are infinitely capable and powerful and in the mountains that we can work together as teams to accomplish our goals. When it gets cold and windy and sometimes grim I am motivated by our physical and mental strength as individuals working as a team.What do you most enjoy in your sport? Rigby: I love to be in nature. As a skier I love the speed of the descent. I love the challenge of the ascent and the balance of physical and mental strength. I love seeing my friends and partners in this element. I love that expeditions can keep us out in nature, sleeping, eating, surviving for long periods. What a gift!What is your favorite outdoor destination (favorite place you have traveled)?Rigby: I love India!!Do you have a quote or motto that inspires you?Rigby: Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. Hellen KellerDont worry, about a thing, every little ting is gonna be alright. Bob Marley. I always sing this song on expedition at least one hundred times.Do you like speaking in front of audiences? Rigby: I like to share stories …Is there anything else you would like to add?Rigby: My life in the mountains and the people I have met on this big amazing planet leave me humble and awed and driven to make it a better place for all.

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?Blum: Im best known for leading the first American all-womens ascent of Annapurna, considered one of the worlds most dangerous and difficult mountains.But right now I think AB706, a current California assembly bill to ban toxic chemicals in our furniture and bedding is my greatest accomplishment.Have you been to Tahoe before? Have you been to (the North Shore)?Blum: Many times for skiing.Have you completed your life goal?Blum: An ongoing process.What is your life goal?Blum: To make the world a more equitable and fair place and help preserve the environment.What motivates you?Blum: Trying to make things better for everyone.What is your favorite outdoor destination (favorite place you have traveled)?Blum: Nepal and Burma.

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