Aim­ing high

Moun­tain-con­quer­ing teen pur­sues another lofty goal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Tokyo

Ja­panese teenager Marin Mi­namiya has al­ready con­quered Qo­molangma, known as Mount Ever­est in the West, and the high­est peaks on six other con­ti­nents, plus a jour­ney to the South Pole.

Now the 19-year-old uni­ver­sity stu­dent has the North Pole in her sights as she tries to be­come the youngest per­son to as­cend the seven peaks and ven­ture to op­po­site ends of the Earth.

Only 51 peo­ple have com­pleted the feat, known as the Ex­plor­ers Grand Slam, ac­cord­ing to a web­site ded­i­cated to the chal­lenge.

Not bad for some­one who thinks scal­ing jaw-drop­ping moun­tains is just a “hobby”.

“I am not a climber so I do not in­tend to con­tinue climb­ing high peaks”, Mi­namiya told AFP in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“I en­joy the process of get- ting there, meet­ing peo­ple.”

“(It) is all about chal­leng­ing your­self, you have to go over your own lim­its, fight your weak­ness. It’s al­most like med­i­ta­tion and I re­ally en­joy that.”

The in­spi­ra­tion for Mi­namiya — who re­cently landed a spon­sor­ship deal with a ma­jor Ja­panese cloth­ing chain — was a school trip in Hong Kong, where her fam­ily had moved for work.

The then 13-year-old was fully en­grossed in the on­line world, of­ten chat­ting with friends through so­cial me­dia rather than in per­son.

One day her class ven­tured onto some of the south­ern Chi­nese city’s hilly ter­rain — and Mi­namiya was hooked.

“It was so re­fresh­ing. It was new to us,” she said.

Then she started scal­ing moun­tains in Nepal and Ti­bet. Af­ter turn­ing 17, she took up a chal­lenge to com­plete the Ex­plor­ers Grand Slam.

Now, she just needs to reach the North Pole — hope­fully in April — to fin­ish the set.

“There were times when sev­eral adults came to me and said: ‘There is no way you can do it. You are just a young Ja­panese girl with­out ex­pe­ri­ence.

“But that did not mat­ter to me. I was just way too de­ter­mined,” she said.

Mi­namiya started with the 6,961-meter Aconcagua, the high­est peak in South Amer­ica, in early 2015 be­fore the South Pole then Qo­molangma in May this year. She is the youngest Ja­panese to reach the top of the world’s high­est moun­tain.

While it is the high­est, Qo­molangma was not the tough­est, she said, shiv­er­ing at the mem­ory of the “ter­ri­fy­ing” Mount El­brus in Rus­sia.

“I just don’t give up and I feel that ev­ery moun­tain has taught me new lessons and it made me a much stronger per­son”, she said.

I just don’t give up and I feel that ev­ery moun­tain has taught me new lessons.” Marin Mi­namiya, ad­ven­turer

PRO­VIDED BY AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Teenage moun­taineer Marin Mi­namiya poses for a pic­ture on the peak of Qo­molangma, known as Mount Ever­est in the West. The Ja­panese uni­ver­sity stu­dent is aim­ing to be­come the youngest per­son to com­plete the so-called Ex­plor­ers Grand Slam.

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