Blum, Arlene – Jewish Climber of the Highest Mountains In The World
Arlene Blum has often asked herself "What’s a nice Jewish girl from the Midwest doing at 21,000 feet, going down a knife-edged ridge all alone?"Arlene organized and helped lead the first all-woman climb up Denali in Alaska. She was also the first American woman to attempt Mt. Everest in 1976. Two years later, she led the first-ever team of women up Annapurna.
One day she watched the movie "The Endless Summer", about three exuberant California surfers traveling the world in search of the perfect wave, and this gave her the idea of the "Endless Winter". Beginning with autumn ascents in the European Alps, she could climb during the winter in Africa, spring in Iran and Kashmir, summer in Afghanistan, fall in Nepal, stop at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, then spend our winter in New Zealand and finish off in the South Pacific, exploring mountains under the sea with scuba gear. She carried this plan out with some companions, and she sums it up: "At a time when U.S. travelers rarely ventured outside Europe and the Americas, we had found our way around the world month by month, carrying out expedition after expedition in some of the most spectacular mountain ranges on earth. We had made three first ascents and had climbed higher than 23,000 feet." She notes that the mountains in Ethiopia, Uganda, Iran, Kashmir and Afghanistan shortly after this became inaccessible to foreign climbers.
Arlene has also planned and went on a marvelous adventure trek along the Himalayas in Bhutan, Nepal, India, etc.
On the down side, Arlene lost some of her closest friends to avalanches and other disasters. She also has a doctorate in biophysical chemistry and is responsible for having several toxic chemicals, used in children’s sleepwear, banned. She also did research in protein folding, and got one of her ideas by watching ice melt in the mountains – this gave her the idea of heating a ribonuclease and then cooling it rapidly to view it in a "partly folded" state.
Her website is at www.arleneblum.com.