Mountain Climber Melissa Arnot on Overcoming Sexism and Physical Barriers (Video)

The only American woman to summit Everest five times visited TheWrap’s first New York Power Women’s Breakfast

Last Updated: August 22, 2015 @ 7:23 AM

Melissa Arnot climbs mountains for a living, but one of her toughest challenges has been battling sexism in a male-dominated industry.

The 31-year-old mountain climber, the only American woman to summit Everst five times and the only female guide working on the mountain, told the audience at TheWrap’s first New York Power Women’s Breakfast last Tuesday that it took time to win over the older men who dominate mountaineering.

Arnot talked about having to prove herself as an experienced and capable climber to her peers who were often dismissive of her. “I can get attention by being a young, cute girl,” she said. “But I can’t get respect that way.”

When faced with skepticism, Arnot said she doesn’t feel defiant — she simply doesn’t listen. “I have not been able to understand why being a woman would limit me in this industry,” she said. “And until I can see that, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

The climber also shared the story of how she got her start in the sport.

During a visit to her native Montana, Arnot, who was working at Procter & Gamble at the time, went on a hike that changed her life. “I literally just stood on the summit of my first peak and looked out,” she said. “And I saw all the opportunity in the world.”

Watch the video.