Emilie Cortes

WHY DO YOU #CHOOSEADVENTURE?

Adventure makes me feel alive! I often use the "death bed" test...if I were on my death bed looking back, would I regret not doing something?  If the answer is "yes," then I go for it!

ADVENTURE MAKES YOU FEEL...

Free

FAVORITE TYPE OF ADVENTURE?

Personally, international high altitude mountaineering is the pinnacle of adventure and my passion.  However, I also REALLY enjoy mellower adventures with friends or clients for whom the adventure feels epic.  It's incredibly rewarding to facilitate transformational experiences in the mountains.

FAVORITE ADVENTURE TO DATE?

You are killing me with this question, but if I HAVE to choose...it would have to be my trip to the Ugandan Rwenzoris mountain range in 2015.  The Rwenzoris are also known as the "Mountains of the Moon" and its receding glaciers are the source of the Nile.  I climbed Mt Stanley (16,762ft) in Uganda to celebrate my 40th birthday with friends and clients.  The local guides said they had never seen anyone, man or woman, climb all three country high peaks (Speke at 16,0483ft and Baker at 15,892ft) in one go with no rest days so it was extra rewarding!  We also hired the only female guide in the Rwenzoris range and several female porters – one of the few places in the developing world where women work in trekking and climbing – and danced the night away with them on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015.  The combination of personal achievement, natural beauty, remoteness, camaraderie, physical challenge and women's empowerment angle made this a trip I will never forget!

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE PLANNED?

As I write this, I'm in Kabul serving as a volunteer guide for Ascend Athletics (www.ascendathletics.org).  I’m working with a group of young Afghani women ages 16-25 on learning technical climbing, training and fitness, and communication and leadership skills to develop these women into future leaders in their country.  The main project objective is to come back and lead these women to the top of their country’s high peak, Mt Noshaq standing at 24,580ft high.  Few westerners and only two Afghani men have achieved this goal, making an ascent of Noshaq a potentially iconic symbol of women’s abilities in the global epicenter of women’s rights.

YOUR ULTIMATE ADVENTURE BUCKET LIST IS?

My life goal is to climb the top 40 country high peaks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_elevation_extremes_by_country) which are all above 13,800ft. So far I have climbed Orizaba in Mexico, Stanley in Uganda/Congo, and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I have unsuccessful attempts on Denali in the US, Mt Kenya in Kenya, and Mt Blanc in France/Italy.  The top three I'm working on now are Noshaq here in Afghanistan, Ras Dashen in Ethiopia, Mt Elbrus in Russia, as well as returns to Denali and Mt Kenya.  My passion is for exploration and this "list" gives me something to stay motivated to work towards.

THE PERSON/PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE ME MOST TO TAKE AN ADVENTURE...

My mother.  She suffered from depression and committed suicide at age 40.  Her death increased my awareness of my own mortality and the preciousness of life.  Every day I live past 40 feels like a gift that I need to make the most of in her honor.

 

HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR ADVENTURES?

www.emiliecortes.com

IG: @mountaineerchica

You can also follow Ascend Athletics at www.ascendathletics.org and consider making a donation for our Noshaq expedition!