Near-death experiences can be a wake-up call for a lot of people, leading them to quit their job or get that car or tell someone they love their true feelings. For Utah mom of seven Jenn Drummond, a car accident that left her within inches of her life was the push she needed to drop everything and begin her journey to be the first woman in the world to climb all seven Second Summits.
Jenn grew up in Michigan and moved to Utah in 2015 to pursue ski training for her seven children, who showed promise in the sport while vacationing in Park City. Her children, Jack (14), Joe (12), Jacob (11), John (10), Josh (8), and twins Jana and Julia (7) could not have been more excited for the change. Jenn had visited Utah when she was in college with friends and kept coming back for the coveted Utah powder. A believer in taking the path of least resistance, Jenn’s decision to move was easy, only requiring four phone calls and the time to pack up her family ’s things.
Within their first year as Utahns, the Drummond family sampled everything Utah had to offer from river rafting to rock climbing. In August of 2015, Jenn climbed the Grand Tetons in Wyoming with a few friends and now reflects, “I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I climbed that mountain that day. ”
After that trip, a passion for hiking and climbing mountains was ignited in Jenn that never left her mind. She began exploring Utah’s mountain ranges almost daily and kept returning for the peace she felt when high above the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Immediately following her fortieth birthday, Jenn signed up to climb Ama Dablam, a 22,000-foot-high peak in Nepal that was also one of her bucket list climbs. When she returned from her trip, a friend of Jenn’s told her that the seven Second Summits had never been climbed by a woman before, and Jenn instantly committed to be the first.
So what are the Second Summits? They are the second highest mountains on each of the seven continents. These summits are all separate from each continent’s highest peak and are considered by many mountaineers to be more technically challenging than the original Seven Summits. The list is comprised of K2, Mt. Logan, Ojos del Salado, Mt. Tyree, Dych Tau, Puncak Mandala, and Mt. Townsend. Jenn has had to meticulously plan her climbing schedule because each of these peaks have a specific time of year that they are available to climb, and even then, the schedule can easily be shifted due to changing weather patterns.
“I’m not a movie star. I’m not a politician. I’m a mom that’s doing the same thing that you are: driving carpool and wiping booger noses, ” she says. “But I’m going to do this thing excited and motivated, and by doing that, the person next to me has no excuse, and it will bring us all closer together. ”
Jenn says a driving force behind her goal to climb the Second Summits has been to empower her daughters and give her sons an example of an empowered woman in their lives every day.
However, it wasn’t until 2018 that Jenn began thinking about using her passion for mountain climbing to set a new world record. That year, on her drive home from a ski competition in Heber, Jenn was hit by a semi truck and rolled three times into a median.
“Instantly, everything became more clear, ” Jenn recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m not putting my life on hold for my kids anymore. I can do both. ’”
Jenn spent the next year in “ a state of observation, ” watching people around her move through life day to day, and she noticed something. “Everyone around me was so miserable with their life—no passion, no excitement—and I just didn’t want my kids to see me like that, ” she says. “I need to live inspired and as a light. I’m going to be a lighthouse and shine my light to everyone around me. ”
Jenn’s goal of climbing the seven Second Summits has also brought her family closer together, with all seven children loving and supporting their mom. She includes her children in every step of her journey. The kids often join her on her training climbs and bring her home books from the library about mountain climbing. The Drummond family also asks each other, “What is your Everest?” as a way of talking about the difficulties each child is going through in their personal life. When she climbs Mt. Kenya, she plans to take the kids on a family safari to celebrate the accomplishment of this goal.
When asked about her training schedule, Jenn laughed and said, “It is not as intense as most people would think. ” However, the general public may argue that point. Two days a week, she does a three-hour hike in the Utah mountains, summiting Mt. Timpanogos being one of her favorites. Then, once a week, she completes an eight- to nine-hour climb. “These long climbs don’t really exist in Utah, so usually I have to do the same climb twice, ” Jenn says. “So I’ll summit Timp, Lone Peak, or Olympus, get down to the bottom, and then just do the whole thing a second time to get the training I need. ” She also lifts weights three times a week and does yoga or pilates when she can squeeze them into her busy schedule.
Jenn kicked off her seven Second Summits adventure in December 2020 by summiting Ojos Del Salado on the border of Argentina and Chile. Her next summit will be Mt. Kenya in Kenya, Africa, then Mt. Everest in May 2021. Everest is one of the original Seven Summits and is the highest peak in the world, but it is widely known in the mountaineering world as being lower in difficulty compared to the world’s second highest summit, K2, which borders Pakistan and China. Jenn wants to summit Mt. Everest first so that K2 seems less intimidating, since one in five climbers who attempt K2 dies. She plans to summit Mt. Tyree next winter when Antarctica will be experiencing its summer season and the window to climb opens up. The rest of the summits can be moved around more freely based on what travel is open due to the COVID-19 crisis. Jenn plans to complete all seven Second Summits all before June 2022.
You can follow Jenn Drummond’s journey on Instagram at @boldbravebeautifullife or at her website, boldbravebeautiful.com. Her amazing adventure is already inspiring men and women around the world who reach out to her and say things like, “I went on a walk today because of you. I feel like I am out of excuses not to!”
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