32-year-old Kate Matrosova was a brilliant woman with boundless energy. She spoke 3 languages and was a successful investment banker. In the sports arena, she won judo matches against male opponents who outweigh her by 100 pounds. Some of her friends describe her as a willful woman who simply refused to admit defeat under any circumstances.
Her achievements in the great outdoors include:
1. Climbing Africa’s highest peak Mt Kilimanjaro in 2011
2. Climbing Europe’s highest peak Mt Elbrus in 2012
3. Qualifying with International Mountain Guides in 2013
4. Climbing Denali, highest peak in North America and Aconcagua, highest peak in South America in 2014
She was well on her way to bagging the 7 summits with her sights obviously on Everest, but she also wanted to be the first woman to climb Denali in winter. So she first set out to do the 16-mile Presidential Traverse over New Hampshire’s highest peaks in February 2015. These peaks may be puny by Himalayan standards, but it is certainly no walk in the park. She had done this trek with her husband before, but on this trip, she wanted to go fast and was concerned that her husband might slow her down!
The weather forecast gave a temperature of -20F and winds up to 125 mph but Kate Matrosova decided to go ahead. In fact, she drew the following schedule which would have been a breakneck speed even when weather conditions were ideal.
0800 Summit Mt Madison
0900 Summit Mt Adams
1100 Summit Mt Jefferson
1300 Summit Mt Clay
1500 Summit Mt Washington
Kate Matrosova was dropped off at the trailhead at 5.00am and was never seen alive again. A search party found her body between Mt Madison and Mt Adams. She had died of hypothermia and records from her GPS showed that she had summitted Mt Adams and turned back.
When her body was found, the last picture recovered from her camera was a selfie taken at Madison Spring Hut at noon. She was way behind her planned schedule but chose not to turn back and fight another day.
Though I don’t know Kate Matrosova personally, I’m inclined to think she was not acting responsibly. We adventurers have our own objectives. Some go on trips just for the thrill of it. Some hope to gain some spiritual experience. Some wish to educate their kids. Some hope to challenge themselves. Some hope to beat others and earn bragging rights. Without judging, I would say that all these objectives are acceptable – as long as one does not go to extremes and throw caution to the wind. I detest people who judge all adventurers as empty souls or egomaniacs. But if you embark on a borderline suicidal trip just to stand out from the crowd. A friend of her said that she was a brave woman and not just a silly girl playing mountaineering. I beg to differ. She wrestled with men and won. She felt invincible and wanted to beat Mother Nature this time.