VANCOUVER — From Everest to Denali, a mountaineer from British Columbia has climbed to a record after spending more than two years scaling some of the tallest peaks on Earth.
North Vancouver's Liz Rose reached the summit of Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales in Australia this week, marking her successful completion of the Seven Summits, a series of climbs up the highest mountains on each of the world's seven continents.
Only about 400 climbers around the globe have completed the feat.
At 26 years old, Rose is believed to be the youngest Canadian to have reached all the summits. Jason Rodi was 27 when he finished the climbs in 2004, according to statistics from 7summits.com.
"It was incredible to come full circle with the journey that I've been on," Rose said from Gold Coast, Australia, on Wednesday.
Rose climbed small peaks when she was growing up in Vancouver's North Shore mountains and going to university near the Rocky mountains in Colorado.
But it wasn't until she was finishing school 2 1/2 years ago that she decided she wanted to do her first big climb, scaling Mount Kilimanjaro with her dad in Tanzania.
"I wanted one last fun adventure before getting out into the workplace," she said.
That trip is where Rose fell in love with climbing and adventure. When a friend told her about the Seven Summits, she thought it was "a really cool goal to get out and achieve."
But first there was a lot to learn, including how to deal with altitude sickness.
Getting through temperatures of -45 degrees Celsius and tough climbing conditions requires mental toughness and the ability to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, Rose said.
"That's generally my outlook on everything, whether it's one step at a time or one mountain at a time, just breaking it down into smaller parts to make it more manageable."
It also helped to have a support network consisting of a personal trainer, sports psychologist, climbing coach and lots of friends and family.
Seventeen of those friends and family members were with Rose on her final climb this week.
It took the group about four hours to reach Mount Kosciuszko's summit, a fraction of the time it took Rose to get to the top of Mount Elbrus in Russia or Mount Vinson in Antarctica.
"It was definitely the easiest (climb) of them all, but it was nice that I could share it with everyone," she said.
The climber also carried a flag signed by about two dozen kids from Canuck Place, a children's hospice in Vancouver.
She dedicated her Australia climb to helping raise money for the facility's recreational therapy program, and has brought in more than $54,000, which will be matched by a local foundation.
"It felt really good to connect such a meaningful cause to it, so it was greater than myself," Rose said.
Earlier this year, Rose met the kids at a camp, where she did arts and crafts with them, sang songs around a campfire and told them about climbing mountains.
She wanted to take them along with her on the journey, so the children signed the flag and she carried a GPS tracker up the mountain so they could watch her progress from home.
"It was incredible to come full circle with this journey that I've been on," Rose said. "And to know that I was helping the kids at Canuck Place, that made it really special as well."
Now the young mountaineer is taking some time to relax in Australia before she returns home to B.C., where she plans to write a book about her experiences.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press