Alison Levine is an American mountain climber, sportswoman, explorer, leadership consultant and the founder and President of the Climb High Foundation. She is a history-making adventurer who has survived sub-zero temperatures, hurricane-force winds and sudden avalanches. She was born in Phoenix on April 5, 1966 with a life threatening condition that eventually required two cardiac surgeries to repair. She also suffers from a Raynaud’s disease, a neurological condition that cuts the blood flow to her fingers and toes in cold temperatures leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.
After graduating from high school she attended the University of Arizona in Tucson and went on to get an MBA from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. It was not until she was 32 years old that she was healthy enough to begin to climb mountains. Since then, she has climbed the highest peak on every continent and skied to both the North and South Poles—a feat known as the Adventure Grand Slam. She is one of only 40 people to have done this. In 2002 she was team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition. After two months on the mountain and only several hundred feet from the top of Mount Everest she and her team turned back because of severe weather conditions. Although disappointed that they did not reach the top, she used this and other extreme encounters with nature to think about and teach audiences what we can learn from our most difficult experiences and seeming “failures.”
In January 2008, she made history as the first American to finish a 600-mile traverse from west Antarctica to the South Pole following the route of legendary explorer Reinhold Messner. She completed this arduous journey on skis while hauling 150 pounds of gear and supplies on a sled harnessed to her waist.
In addition to having tackled and excelled in one of the most challenging sports, Alison brought about change and elevated the status of women in Uganda, when she founded the non-profit organization, the Climb High Foundation. Her organization trains jobless women in western Uganda to work as trekking guides and porters in their local mountains—something that was previously taboo in their culture. As a result of her efforts, these women are now able to earn a sustainable living wage through climbing related tourism. Her work in Africa is the subject of the PBS documentary Living Courageously.
Alison is also a consultant and keynote speaker on the subject of leadership development. She is a New York Times best selling author of On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and Other Extreme Environments. She is the Executive Producer of the Glass Ceiling, a documentary film of the life of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa and her quest to become the first Nepali woman to climb Mount Everest.