Elizabeth Rose, author of Written In The Snow, is the youngest Canadian to conquer the seven summits. These are the mountains that are the highest peaks on each continent. Everest, Kilimanjaro—I don’t know all seven, but those are the two I know.
In this episode, Liz is going to share the stories and the lessons she learned that beyond just climbing, the lessons that served her and changed her life in every way. She was a young woman, 26 years old who felt a bit lost and directionless and her journey changed her world. If you’re a young woman or just a person who feels a bit aimless right now, this is the episode for you.
Elizabeth Rose: I was fresh out of university, and I was so excited to go into the workforce and get my dream job. I had an awesome resume, I had really great connections, and I was just so excited for that next chapter of my life. I started looking for jobs, and about two months in, I felt completely defeated. I had no job offers and only a couple of interviews.
Everything wasn’t going as planned.
I really was down, and I felt the need to go accomplish something. I started searching on the internet for like a quick fix of something that will make me feel satisfied and accomplished.
I stumbled upon an adventure company, and one of their trips was to climb Kilimanjaro. The instant I saw it, I knew that this was the perfect fix. It was a short trip, so I could do the trip and then get straight back into the job search with a new motivation.
That’s kind of how my book started and how my adventure started.
Let’s Go for a Climb
Charlie Hoehn: Wow. Okay, you started off climbing mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, what was that like? What was the journey going over there like?
Elizabeth Rose: My dad and I, I dragged him along, he decided he would come with me to share that experience. We had about three weeks’ notice to prep for the trip. Neither of us owned hiking boots and we were definitely not seasoned hikers.
We’d done a few local hikes, but we were just taking on something new. We’re both huge optimists and went in with a positive attitude. We’re relatively fit and so we thought we would be totally fine.
“We didn’t really have a worry in the world.”
Friends had warned us, “You guys, people train for a year to do that,” but we didn’t let that stop us. We were excited.
Charlie Hoehn: What was the experience like?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, from the get go, the days were a lot longer than we had anticipated, and it was a tough climb. They ranged from about five to seven hours, and summit day was over 12 hours.
We were not used to that at all, but we pushed.
On summit day, we were in like ankle high snow, trying to get up a super steep hill. It was a definite struggle, but we pushed each other and motivated each other to get through it and were super excited once we reached the top together.
Lessons from the Top
Charlie Hoehn: What are the moments that kind of stand out for you on that first climb? Did you learn anything about yourself?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, it was just such a surreal feeling at the top and the experience of sharing it together was amazing and the big take away was trying new things, we had both never done anything like that before, and from there, it created my passion for climbing and adventures.
It was a huge turning point in my life.
Charlie Hoehn: Did you have any mishaps?
Elizabeth Rose: We forgot to wear sunscreen on summit day.
You’re up at such a high altitude that we weren’t thinking too clearly, and our guides forgot to mention it, so I ended up with third degree burns on my face. It was a rough week after.
My face hurt so much, it was like my skin was completely crusted over and ended up all falling off and oozing and it was terrible. I learned from that one.
As you were going down, you could tell who had already summitted by the look of their face.
Charlie Hoehn: Did you go straight from Africa back home or did you say, “let’s do another one?”
Elizabeth Rose: I had the motivation to do more but I had just landed a brand new job. I was excited for that part of my life as well. Then the job worked out where I had six months on and then two months off. I was already planning my next adventure for my two months off.
Back on the Ground
Charlie Hoehn: What was your next adventure?
Elizabeth Rose: Next, I went to Everest base camp. I took my mom on that trip, and that is really the point or the time when I fell in love with the idea of climbing Everest. That’s where I learned what the seven summits were, there was a girl in my group who her aunt had done the seven summits. I looked them up and decided at that point that someday, I was going to climb them all too.
Charlie Hoehn: Why did it matter to you to climb the seven summits? I mean, you had done one really big summit, why did you want to do all seven?
Elizabeth Rose: I figured, I’ve already knocked one of them off the list and I had such a passion for exploring the world and climbing and hiking.
“I thought it would be an amazing life goal to have.”
Charlie Hoehn: Did you have any fears? I mean, the first mountain had taught you some harsh lessons, getting your face burned completely.
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, I didn’t really look back. I learned from that mistake and definitely wouldn’t repeat it. I wasn’t really scared at all.
Charlie Hoehn: Your book has some incredible photos of you going through these climbs and what you experienced, but tell me some of your favorite stories in climbing mount Everest?
Elizabeth Rose: It wasn’t like a favorite enjoyable one, but going down Everest was like one of the scariest moments of my life. I got to the top and it had been engrained in my head that all the accidents and everything bad happens on the way down.
When I got to the top, I was super confident going up and then I actually have a video of me at the top being like, I have no idea how I’m going to get down, but hopefully in one piece.
“I was terrified.”
Fear kicked in, and the first section near the top, we had to rappel down. Basically your hand is your break on the rope. If I were to let go, I would literally be falling off of the highest mountain on earth. Anyways, at one point, I slipped and then that just like confirmed all my fear and I was in tears and I needed a second to catch my breath, we’re at 29,000 feet and I just needed to regroup. But everyone was going up and down on the same rope.
My Sherpa was like, “There’s no time for you to catch your breath, we need to keep moving now.”
I just had to pull it together, and my tears were making my oxygen mask slide off my face. Yeah, just such vivid memories. I had to stay mentally tough and keep going.
Charlie Hoehn: Was that your most vivid memory from Everest?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, definitely, that’s the one that really stuck to me. I mean, the view from the top of the world was absolute incredible as well. It was a bright blue sky, sunny day, and the top was covered in colorful prayer flags. You could just see all the Himalayas in the distance.
Fun fact is, the top of Everest is actually very small.
It’s about the size of an average dining room table, which most people don’t realize. There’s lots of areas where you can’t actually stand on there—it’s like one section where you can take a quick photo that’s safe to stand on.
Charlie Hoehn: Wow. Tell me, what was your training like before you did Everest, specifically?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, no. I had climbed Mount Aconcagua before Everest, and I actually, because of weather had to do that one twice. That was definitely great training. One of the best things for training that you can do is altitude train. Aconcagua was 22,000 feet. That was kind of the perfect training I could have done for Everest.
It was quite a short window that I knew that I was going to Everest. I had basically had three weeks after my Aconcagua clients. I got a climbing coach and a sports psychologist, got a personal trainer, and basically did everything that I could to get Everest ready.
Life after the Summits
Charlie Hoehn: To have done the Seven Summits, you were 26 at the time when you completed them. How did this change you?
Elizabeth Rose: It taught me a lot about myself like to believe in myself and stay mentally tough. Now, going into life situations, if something seems stressful, I’m like, “I’ve done the seven summits, I can get through this.”
I use that reference a lot to help me apply to my everyday life of being able to get through difficult moments.
Charlie Hoehn: Do you remember the last time you thought that as you were going through something hard?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, even little things on a daily basis and like a really tough workout, I’m like, “Okay Liz, it’s only an hour workout, your summit day on Everest was 24 hours. Suck it up, you can do it.”
Charlie Hoehn: What do you think is possible for you now that the Seven Summits are done?
Elizabeth Rose: After the Seven Summits, I always wanted to write a book. This was my next big summit in itself, and it definitely had its challenges just like a mountain did. Now after the book, I’m not sure where my life will take me but I’m excited and ready for anything.
Connect with Elizabeth Rose
Charlie Hoehn: Did you have a hope for your book?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, I mean, I hope to inspire other people, young girls, lost in life like I was. Any age really, and I want people to really take away from it to be able to set big goals.
I wasn’t some super star athlete climber before going into this. I found a new passion and set a goal and went for it. I think a lot of people are scared to start something new, but it has changed my life completely.
I hope other people do the same.
Charlie Hoehn: I imagine just by meeting people and then hearing your story that they themselves have changed as well. Do you have any instances of people who have been inspired by your journey?
Elizabeth Rose: Yeah, I definitely have some friends that have gone to Everest base camp or climbed Kilimanjaro after seeing all my pictures and hearing all my stories from those trips. Even non climbing, I want to inspire people to find their own summit. If your goal is to run a marathon or learn a new instrument to do something like that.
“Just take on a challenge.”
Charlie Hoehn: What is the best way for our listeners to follow you and what you do next and potentially get in touch with you?
Elizabeth Rose: I’m quite active on Instagram. My Instagram is @lizrose5 and I also have a website with lots of pictures and updates about my trips and that is lizrosesummit.com.
Charlie Hoehn: Excellent. All right, final question I have is, for you to give our listeners a challenge. What is the one thing they can apply to their life from your book this week that have a positive impact?
Elizabeth Rose: I would say, do something outside your comfort zone. You never know where passion might come from, so I challenge you this week to do one thing that you wouldn’t normally do.