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Featured image of Melissa Arnot Reid- the only American woman who climbed mt everest

Melissa Arnot Reid- The woman who climbed Mt. Everest without oxygen

Who is Melissa Arnot Reid?

Melissa Arnot Reid, now 37 years old, is an American mountaineer who is best known as the woman to summit the Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen for the second most times.

Melissa Arnot Reid is a guide for RMI Expeditions and other outfitters, including her own that she opened in 2010. She is a daring personality who has taught many people, especially young girls, to be fearless.

Melissa Arnot Reid is also a philanthropist and a motivational speaker highly regarded in the mountaineering community, and there is so much more to learn about her.

Hop in to find out all about the first American woman and the second woman in the world to summit the top of the world without supplemental oxygen for the most times.

Melissa Arnot Reid childhood

Melissa Arnot, now Melissa Arnot Reid, was born on December 18, 1983, in Colorado, United States.

Her father, Jim, was a ski patroller at Purgatory Resort and her mother was an administrative assistant. Later her father opened up a construction business but unfortunately when Melissa was just five years old; he broke his back. After that, he began working as the director of the reservation’s housing authority for Volunteers of America.

Melissa Arnot Reid grew up on the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Reservation in Ignacio, southeast of Durango. Her family’s financial status was low, and when your pocket is empty, the thought of mountaineering does not even come to your mind.

When she was 12, Melissa and her family moved to Whitefish, Montana. There, she started as a freshman in high school.

Her time in Montana’s high school proved to be one of the roughest times of her life as she became a target for the bullies. Why, may you ask? As you see, her family’s financial status was weak and could not match the Whitefish’s wealthy resort community. In high school, the students made fun of her clothes and her lack of branded outfits.

By the age of 13, she started cleaning hotel bathrooms for money. At the age of 16, she graduated high school and moved out of her parent’s house.

In 2000, she earned a scholarship at the University of Iowa where she studied Literature and creative writing. She also earned a degree in Business.

Melissa Arnot Reid personal life

Melissa was first married to Jon Duval in 2012, but sadly, they ended their three-year marriage in 2015.

Later in 2016, she married Tyler Reid– a guide himself. Currently, they live together in the Methow Valley of Washington State and carry out their respective guide works.

Melissa and Tyler have trained together and also have attempted oxygen-free attempts to Mount Everest.

Melissa Arnot Reid career

As much as Melissa Arnot Reid is known as an American mountaineer, surprisingly, she had not started climbing till she was 19 years old. Shocking right?

Let’s talk about how Melissa’s mountaineering career began.

  • Melissa’s First Encounter with the Mountains

Melissa Arnot Reid was heading back to Montana after graduating college when a friend invited her to climb the Great Northern Mountain– a non-technical 8,705 feet peak outside of Glacier National Park. It was her first-time mountain climbing, and that experience widened her horizons about what mountain climbing could offer her.

So she began to save money to climb mountains by living out of her car. She pursued a career in medicine and guiding and got certified as a Wilderness First Responder. She also became a certified EMT in Montana.

In 2001, she climbed Mount Rainier for the first time, which became her “watershed moment” (Currently, she has climbed Mount Rainier more than 100 times). After the climb, she decided to learn how to climb mountains while working as an EMT. She also worked at a health club in Montana.

In 2002, she began working as a guide on Mount Rainier with Rainier mountaineering.

In 2004, she was hired by RMI expeditions as a guide for Mount Rainier, and by 2006, she was a lead guide.

Till 2008, Melissa Arnot Reid led clients’ to Mount Everest.

  • Mount Everest Without Supplemental Oxygen

Melissa Arnot Reid’s career peaked as she started attempting for Mount Everest WITHOUT OXYGEN! Her first attempt to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen began in 2009. Sadly, she failed on her first try.

She began plotting and designing a masochistic training regimen that would make her mentally strong. The training included her depriving herself of food and water, working out all-day, running three days per week, and hiking three days a week.

Melissa’s summit attempt in 2014 and 2015 failed due to an avalanche at Mount Everest.

On May 23, 2016, all her hard work paid off as she became the first American woman to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen successfully. Before her, Francys Arsentiev, another American woman, had reached the summit without oxygen in 1998. Sadly, she could not survive the descent.

Until today, Melissa Arnot Reid has summited Everest six times, making her the second woman in history to have done so without the use of oxygen. Lhakpa Sherpa, a Nepalese mountaineer, has accomplished seven summits.

  • Other Notable Summits

    • Melissa has completed the first ascent of Mustang Himal in the Mustang region of Nepal. Click here to learn more about Mustang
    • She has guided many ascents of Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Ecuador Volcanoes, Colombian Andes, and various trekking peaks of Nepal.
    • Melissa Arnot Reid and her companion Maddie Miller completed the ’50 Peaks Challenge’ with the highest record time: 41 days, 16 hours, and 10 minutes.

Melissa Arnot Reid controversy

  • Record with the most summits controversy

Upon reaching her fourth oxygen-free summit in 2012, Melissa Arnot Reid was believed to have achieved the record with the most summits and was promoted as one on her website and media by her sponsors.

However, the claim was false as Lhakpa Sherpa- a Nepali woman had a record with six summits. This scenario led to a big controversy and criticism over the years despite her achievements.

  • False accusations over mountaineering skills controversy

Her talent and hard work are evident; however, she has been accused of having benefited from her good looks and lacking technical mountaineering skills. Well, her achievements said otherwise. It shows how much scrutiny female athletes are frequently subjected to.

  • The brawl between sherpa team and the Alpinists Group Controversy

In 2015, Melissa Arnot Reid played a peacekeeper’s role in a fight that broke out between the Sherpa team and some of the world’s top Alpinists.

The issue was the Sherpas felt disrespected by Jon Griffith, Ueli Steck, and Simone Moro. As a result, they threatened violence on them. It was then that Arnot Reid stepped in and tried to maintain peace.

She was able to reach that level of influence because of her reputation in the Everest region. She is respected for her work as a mountain climber, a paramedic who assisted Sherpas on the mountain, and for cultivating friendships with the Sherpas. Not to mention “The Juniper Fund”, which she co-founded with Dave Morton to help families of Nepali mountain workers who died on the job.

Melissa Arnot Reid philanthropy

Melissa Arnot Reid is not just a mountaineer lover, but she loves to give back to the community as well. Some of her renowned philanthropic activities are:

  • In 2008, she became an Everest Team member along with Jeff Dossett and David Morton to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and Microsoft and Dell products by supporting Project Red.
  • In 2010, she guided groups of celebrities and influencers to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for the global clean water crisis. The event, called ‘Summit on the Summit,’ included stars like Jessica Biel, Isabel Lucas, Lupe Fiasco, Santigold, Kenna, and many scientists and activists.
  • Melissa co-founded ‘the Juniper Fund‘ in 2012 to provide financial aid to the families of deceased local workers killed in Nepal’s mountains. She established this fund after her climbing partner, Chhewang Nima Sherpa, died on the verge of climbing Baruntse in 2010.
    After she met with his wife and family and saw their sufferings due to the breadwinner’s death, she decided to help them.

Melissa Arnot Reid awards

  • Female recipient of the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards 2015.
  • Recipient of the Excellence in Climbing Awards for starting ‘The Juniper Fund’.

Melissa Arnot Reid Now

Melissa is currently spending her days running her guide services and sharing her learnings from the mountains with others.

She has been actively involved with ‘The Juniper Fund’ and works to grant financial support to families of local workers who die in Nepal’s mountains. Melissa also is a motivational speaker at Bespoken Bureau.

She is sponsored by Eddie Bauer- American adventure apparel, footwear, and gear company. She is one of the original six mountain guides (Peter Whittaker, Ed Viesturs, Dave Hahn, Seth Waterfall, and Chad Peele) who have developed products for the first ascent brand.

She is also sponsored by Alpina Watches, Tasc Performance, Leki, and GoalZero.

Melissa Arnot Reid social media

Melissa Arnot Reid is very active on social media, and you can find her on all social handles such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She is the most active on Instagram.

You can also find her on LinkedIn as Melissa Arnot Reid.

You can book a guided trip with her at www.melissaarnot.com.

About the author

Currently pursuing her bachelor's degree, Malika is a curious cat who believes writing is a therapy. She loves covering the stories of people and places.

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