Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life

In the late 1960s and 70s, the male-dominated climbing establishment shunned Arlene Blum. During a time when women weren’t welcome because they couldn’t carry heavy loads or handle the effects of high altitude, she was ostracized for her sex alone. Hard to believe, that was less than 50 years ago.

Blum’s Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life tells her story of lost opportunities – both in the mountaineering world and her own upbringing – that led to accomplishment.

In many ways, she’s the “every woman,” describing trouble with relationships, how to balance a desire for adventure with career and financial needs, and family struggles that created both insecurity and drive.

On the other hand, Blum stands alone in her experiences. She received her PhD in chemistry, conducted protein folding studies that contributed to breakthroughs in AIDS research, and investigated flame retardants in kids’ sleepwear, helping to ban the use of such carcinogens. Alongside her academic feats, she also broke trail for female mountaineers: she led the first women’s climbing team on Denali (“The Great One”), was the first American woman to attempt Everest and set a world altitude record for American women on Annapurna I.

What sets this book apart from other mountaineering memoirs is Blum’s humility.

Read the rest of the review at Women’s Adventure Magazine.

1 Comment

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One response to “Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life

  1. Excellent review! I am looking forward to reading Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life. It sure sounds like it is an inspiring book for women hikers and mountaineers.

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