Thirty-nine-year-old Annabelle Bond holds the women’s record for climbing the Seven Summits—she climbed them all in one year—and has used her endurance feats to raise $2 million for ovarian cancer research. 5280 caught up with the part-time Aspenite to talk about conquering Mt. Everest, cancer, and her fear of heights.

I grew up in Asia, and my parents wanted us to be proficient at the social sports, like skiing and sailing. Climbing never really figured at all in my life until I moved to Sun Valley for a year. I knew that I had the endurance to climb summits, but I’m not a technical climber. I am very good at doing what I am told—only on the mountain, though.

When I went to Everest, no one thought I could do it. It was actually a great way to climb—there was no pressure to succeed.

I didn’t even believe that I could accomplish [Everest]. I had to overcome so many fears, like my fear of heights on all those ladders. I’m the only person who read Into Thin Air four times at base camp. People told me not to, but I wanted to know and try to understand what went wrong.

All of my mountain climbing is to raise money for the Eve Appeal, a gynecological cancer research fund. Ovarian cancer is a treatable cancer that people don’t know that much about. A month before I went to Everest, I was diagnosed with a benign ovarian tumor and had it removed. I was at my peak fitness. If it could happen to me, then it could happen to anyone.

I became the first woman to finish the Seven Summits in less than a year in 2005. If I wanted to do it again, I would do it differently. I would start in Antarctica and finish in Alaska, because that enables you to be much faster. My climbs all happened spontaneously as I raised the funds. I was just winging it from summit to summit.

I did all of my training for Everest in Aspen. I would climb Aspen Mountain every morning before going skiing in order to stay acclimatized.

When I was climbing Everest in 2004, there were about 12 girl climbers and about 200 men. Now there are so many more women climbing Everest. Women should be able to climb alongside guys. We’re just as strong climbers—we just can’t carry as much on our backs.

I’m a single mom—I have a 20-month-old daughter—and I wanted to do an endurance event like the Racing the Planet: Namibia (a 250-kilometer desert trek) that didn’t take me away from my daughter for a long period of time like climbing. I have to put her needs first. But you don’t have to lose your identity because you have a child.

I remember going for a pedicure after an endurance race in Hong Kong, and I only had three toenails left. I asked for a discount, and they laughed at me.

I wish that I had gotten into mountain climbing at a younger age. It gives you such confidence. It helps you deal with day-to-day problems and turn negatives into positives.

You learn your limits on the mountain—you push yourself harder than you ever have before.

If a girl who grew up in 100 percent humidity and is afraid of heights can do this, anyone can.

This article was originally published in 5280 June 2009.
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner
Natasha Gardner is a Denver-based writer and the former Articles Editor for 5280.