Mountain-conquering teen pursues another lofty goal
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
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.