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ESF The First 50 Years - People stories

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English Schools Foundation

Climbing higher and higher

ESF alumna: Marin Minamiya

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 11:31am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 2017, 12:41pm

[Sponsored article] In April 2017, Marin Minamiya achieved what most people could never even dream of. The 20 year old became the 52nd person in the world and the youngest to ever climb the seven highest summits for each continent, and reach both the North Pole and the South Pole, completing the Explorer’s Grand Slam.

While embarking on this remarkable achievement, she also became the youngest female to climb Mt Manaslu in Nepal, the youngest Japanese 8,000 metre climber and the youngest Japanese to climb Mt Everest.

A South Island School (SIS) alumna, Marin graduated in 2013 and began her seven-summit expedition in 2014. She was drawn to mountaineering after she moved to Hong Kong at the age of 12.

“I liked the contrast between the high-tech concrete jungle and hills,” says Marin. “The friendships created and all the beautiful scenery you get to see after a lot of sweat and hard work were incredibly rewarding,” she says.

The school provided her with many opportunities to test her abilities, but nothing as hard as the snowy cliffs she had to climb, sometimes even risking her life.

While climbing Manaslu, the strongest member of Marin’s team passed away due to high altitude sickness and fatigue. While climbing in Japan, she slipped and fell from a 250 metre cliff. She was fortunate that the snow broke her fall, none of her bones were broken and she didn’t have any open wounds.

After spending the night alone shivering in a shelter built of snow, a rescue helicopter finally found her next day and took her to the hospital.

Marin’s trip to the South Pole cost Close to half a million HKD. She is financially independent from her parents and must work hard in order to get company sponsorships to support her expeditions. She must also train rigorously in the gym and continuously climbs treacherous mountain paths to maintain her form.

In her school days Marin was encouraged by her teachers to make a difference. “This emotion and passion still lives within me,” she says.

Marin advises young people to be strong and resilient. “Don’t be afraid and take a step forward,” she says. “Life is full of opportunities, it’s up to you if you take it and make it your own or not. Just remember that it’s just you getting in your own way of reaching your dreams.”