Get familiar with the name Sasha DiGiulian. She is a senior college student from Columbia University and is also a world champion rock climber. But she has just added a major credit to her growing biography, one that would make many professional athletes jealous – she has made history.
How did she do this? By using her skills to scale one of the most formidable and dangerous mountains – Eiger Mountain in the Swiss Alps in August and making history as the first women to do so. She successfully scaled a 6000 foot grey limestone mountain, nicknames “murder mountain” with her climbing partner Carlo Traversi. Sasha and Carlo also become the first American team to summit Eiger.
The 22 year old, not phased by a mountain with a nickname that doesn’t exactly scream “user-friendly”, battled unpredictable weather conditions and and physical exhaustion all while sleeping on the mountain each night. But she was well aware of what she was taking on.
“There were definitely points on the climb where I would feel almost paralyzed by fear. It hit me in waves, realizing the extent of the danger that the Eiger actually has to climbing it,” she told USA Today.
“It’s a lot of suffering, and a lot of convincing yourself that you can do something when there’s a lot of uncertainty and doubt,” she added.
She has been climbing for sport since she was 6, and told CBS news in a recent interview that the desire to push and challenge herself to conquer new terrain was the reason she did it, when they asked why she decided to take on the dangerous climb.
“It was the most physically and mentally exhausted I’ve ever been, but also the proudest achievement in my career,” she said.
When a host asked her “how do you deal with fear?” Sasha had a great response.
“You can’t think about failing…to not be paralyzed by fear is to not think about it. But also be rational with the decisions you make,” she said.
Those are some words of wisdom that anyone could apply to any situation in their life!
Like most women who are trailblazers in any field, Sasha has come up against negative reactions to being a female in a sport where women aren’t as prevalent as men. One of the CBS hosts asked her how she reacted when people told her “little girls don’t belong on the Eiger”, and Sasha laughed, knowing that she has proved them wrong.
“It’s definitely a motivating factor to be told you can’t do something, and to just think about believing I can do whatever it is that I decide I want to do,” she said in response.
Throughout the climb Sasha kept a video diary and captured most of her climb with a camera attached to her helmet.
If you think this is the last you have seen of Sasha now that she has completed such a momentous climb, don’t be fooled. She already has plans to climb again and will regularly take time out during her college year to travel and conquer other summits, as she has done throughout her school years.
In an interview with Red Bull, whose Snapchat account she took over during the climb and posted various videos on their social media account, Sasha said expanding her skill set is very important to her and keeps her motivated.
“The only way to truly know what you’re capable of is by constantly expanding your comfort zone and testing the unknown. Climbing is a multifaceted sport and in order to fulfill my personal goal of being the best climber that I can be, I want to excel in as many aspects of climbing as possible. I’ve been really motivated this year by setting new goals and really pushing myself in areas that I am completely unsure of,” she said.
Conquering Eiger Mountain in the Swiss Alps isn’t the first historical feat she has achieved. In the Fall of 2014 Sasha had intended to climb a 1,000-foot section of the Swiss Alps named “Zahir Plus”, but when she arrived in the country it was raining too hard. With a quick change of plans, she looked elsewhere in Europe, and instead became the first female to ascent the 1,000-foot Viaje de los Locos mountain in Sardinia, Italy.
It was a bittersweet achievement for Sasha, whose dad passed away in June after suddenly falling ill. He was of Italian background which made the climb more special for her. That was during her junior year of college, and her senior year has already been marked by her historical Swiss Alps climb.
We can’t wait to see what the rest of her climbing career holds for her after college, because if these past couple of years is anything to go by, Sasha is force to be reckoned with. Watch her interview with CBS News below: