Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)
Aiming for peak mental health
Climber gears up for 7 Summits Challenge
SOME people deal with their anxiety with medication or therapy. But extreme high-altitude mountain climber Remy Kloos tackles hers by hiking some of the world’s highest mountains.
The 31-year-old from Cape Town quit her corporate job at the end of 2017 to self-fund her attempt on the 7 Summits Challenge, which involves climbing the seven highest mountains in the world – Everest, Aconcagua, McKinley, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson and Carstensz Pyramid.
She hopes to become the youngest South African to complete the gruelling endurance challenge, which she plans to do by next year.
She also plans to be the first African woman to complete a double summit – reaching the top of both Mount Everest and the top of Mount Lhotse – the highest and fourth highest mountains in the world, all within 24 hours.
With four mountains conquered, next up will be Oceania for the Carstensz Pyramid, which may be postponed due to political and civil unrest in the Indonesian province of Papua.
It’s been a physical and emotional challenge for Kloos, who was diagnosed with depression at the age of 17. After suffering from anxiety for much of her twenties, she decided to overcome that obstacle by learning the ropes of mountaineering in 2016.
The next year, she summited Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.
“I had a moment of realisation that climbing was my purpose. After a few climbs I realised I wanted to turn it into a 7 Summits quest, which I am on now.”
Dangers of extreme high-altitude mountain climbing include avalanches and death from hyperthermia and heart attacks as a result in the decrease of oxygen.
Kloos collects funds through climbing for charity and has raised R500000 towards the upgrading of the Dlala Nje Foundation in Johannesburg.
“I think mountains chose me. When I climb I am completely at peace. There is something beautiful about this process of mountaineering,” Kloos said.
“I want to empower youth and women and those who suffer from mental illness. I’ve learnt that it does not define you.”