When somebody says jump, Melissa Arnot doesn’t say “How high?” She says, “nah, I’d rather fly.”
Because it takes a special type of person to reach the top of the world, and an even more special type of person to do it with such an inspiring style. About four weeks after I left Nepal, Melissa and her boyfriend, Ty, hopped on a plane to Tibet, hoping to realize Melissa’s goal of summiting Everest without supplemental oxygen. They planned to do it a practically unheard of style: ninja style. Yup, they were flying under the radar, no sherpas, no basecamp staff, no cook. Just the two of them, and a mountain.
I had been following their progress through Christine, Melissa’s manager, for weeks before they made their final push. So on May 23, two days after my 14th birthday, Melissa Arnot and Tyler Reid stood atop the highest mountain in the world.
When I heard got the news, I simultaneously almost threw up and nearly started crying. When you have as much love and connection with somebody, as I have with Ty and Melissa, their success becomes your success. I knew how bad, for how long she had wanted this moment, and I felt so proud to know such a strong woman.
But as much respect as I have for Melissa, I have the same for Tyler. He traveled to a country he had never been to, a mountain he had only heard about, to support her dream. He carried big loads, and was always there to tell her that she could do it. Again, it takes a very, very special type of person to do that, and I hope one day that I will have the opportunity to give someone I love that kind of support. He showed how beautiful that can be.
Why, you may be asking, did they do it in ninja style? For Melissa’s past seven Everest expeditions, she had to maintain a high profile in order to gain funding from sponsors. Interviews, public speaking, photoshoots, it was all part of the deal. This time though, with such a personal project such as summiting without oxygen, she kept it small and inconspicuous.
Now, I am headed off again for Puerto Rico, our culminating eighth grade service trip. I hope I can handle the hot weather.
This story was first published on Elliot at Altitude.