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Melissa Arnot has already conquered Mount Everest six times. And she has done so despite the fact that she’s still only 33 and climbing was not a traditional pastime in her relatively poor American family. “I had to fend for myself from the age of 15, which landed me with various jobs, including cleaning toilets,” says the daughter of a ski patroller and an administrative assistant. Her curiosity, which she now describes as one of her primary motivators, made her want to discover more of her own country; and so, it wasn’t a mountain that initially opened a new world to her but a car. “My dad used to say that wheels would give me freedom, and they still do to this very day.” Once she finished high school and scraped together enough money, she bought a truck and took off, aged 16. First to Oregon to work as a nanny, and later to Iowa, where she fulfilled her first big dream: a university degree. Armed with a double major in business and health promotion, she returned to her home state of Montana, where she went out into the hills with a friend. “The mountains gave me something I had not encountered before.” From the beginning, mountaineering for Arnot was more about precision and endurance and less about speed: “I am a calculated risk taker and it’s the art of precision and perfection I am interested in, and that’s where I can identify with the AMG brand,” says the ambassador for AMG’s 50th anniversary campaign. To improve her skills, Arnot became a climbing bum and even spent some time living out of her car to do so. As a result, when Arnot applied to work as a guide with Rainier Mountaineering Expeditions (RMI) in Washington State in 2005, she passed all the tests with flying colors. Over the next three years, she gave it everything she had, and in May of 2008, another seemingly unattainable dream came true: She reached the summit of Mount Everest at the youthful age of 24. “It was different from what I had expected. It was slow, it was busy and it was actually not that difficult.” Arnot was mighty surprised by the relative ease with which she climbed the 29,029-foot mountain. This discovery prompted yet another dream: reaching the top without supplemental oxygen. Only 197 of the 4,470 Everest summiteers have achieved this feat since 1953. And thus began the fierce pursuit of her new goal. In 2009, Arnot returned to Everest for her first attempt without ‘gas’. However, the expedition was dogged by misfortune from the very start. On the eight-day trek to base camp, Arnot fell and fractured her leg (incredibly, this did not stop her climbing); her climbing partner was dealing with illness and serious personal difficulties and, to compound things, Arnot’s own private life was falling apart. She bit the bullet, bagged the summit for a second time, but again strapped on the oxygen mask for it. Arnot had not given up on her dream, however. Today she openly admits that her pursuit went as far as sacrificing her marriage to Jon Duval. “Jon was a non- climber, and even though it was a blessing at times, it was also a curse as he did not really understand my ambitions.” Her perseverance and sacrifices finally paid off, and on May 23, 2016 her long-held dream came true: She became the seventh woman to stand on top of the world without supplemental oxygen. “On my way to the summit I felt as if I had had a tight rubber band around me all my life, and all of a sudden it was gone and I could move freely. I felt as if I were made of helium and I was faster than ever before.” It might be reasonable to wonder what accomplishments remain for such a high achiever in her early thirties. Not for Arnot, though. “When you think you’re at your best, I’d say that’s actually where your starting point is. You can build on it, achieve more and challenge yourself; and this is where I am now,” she says, referring to her new ambition of training young women to become mountaineers. “I’m training a 14-yearold American girl, Ellie, and it’s so much fun. I sometimes see myself in her and I’ve made it my vocation to be a role model for young girls such as her.” Only ten percent of Everest summiteers are women. “Being a female climber is a double-edged sword. Women are often given opportunities because they are women and are cute; but by the same token, it also means we don’t get second chances. I had to work hard to earn respect, as everyone is bored with the cute side of me by now.” Name Melissa Arnot Reid Age 33 Favorite car Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC Favorite mountain Makalu (fifth highest peak in the world) Favorite muscle Heart – it’s the source of your strength and has its automaticity Favorite time of day Sunrise Greatest success Being one of seven women on earth who managed to ascend Everest without oxygen Biggest challenge Training the next generation of female mountaineers and trying to change the numbers 100


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