By any measure, Arlene Blum is a legendary trailblazer. Defying the resistance of the climbing establishment, she led the first teams of women on successful ascents of Mt. McKinley and Annapurna and was the first American woman to attempt Mt. Everest. She stands alongside Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead and Mary Leakey in being honoured with a Gold Medal from the Society of Women Geographers. This is the story of Blum's journey from an overprotected youth in Chicago to the tops of some of the highest peaks on Earth. "Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life" is a full-scale memoir that explores how Arlene's childhood fuelled her need to climb - and how, in turn, her climbing liberated her from her childhood. Each chapter in the book begins with a poignant vignette from Blum's early life. Using these as starting points, she traces her evolution as a climber, from a hilariously incompetent beginner to a world-renowned expeditionary leader. Along the way, she takes us to some of the most remote and exquisite places on the planet, sharing the exhilaration, toil and danger of climbing high.
Throughout these extraordinary adventures Blum weaves the story of her scientific career which, like her mountaineering, challenged gender stereotypes and led to significant discovery and change.