HSA: Name, age, city/town where you live?
RK: Remy Kloos, I am 30 and currently living in Cape Town.
HSA: Where and when did you start hiking?
RK: Hiking was introduced into my life at a very young age. Even before I could walk, I was in a backpack on my dad’s back, mostly exploring local spots around Cape Town. But, to be honest, hiking wasn’t always my first-choice activity as a young girl. It wasn’t until (not that so long ago) I was at a low and broken place in my life that I decided to turn to the mountains, the spaces where I find a deep sense of healing. The bigger the peak, the more at home and at peace I felt. I realised my true strength, inner power and what I was capable of.
HSA: Who introduced you to hiking?
RK: My Dad. He has also climbed Kili and trekked the Chadar in the Himalayas when he was 60 years old!
HSA: You are doing the famed 7 Summits. Tell us where you are at in this achievement and why you are doing it?
RK: I have now completed 3/7. My ultimate dream is to climb all seven summits. I feel like climbing the seven summits is something so much bigger than me and the mountains. I’m proud to represent the growing (albeit slow) number of young female high altitude climbers and I want to empower young women to dream big and conquer their own fears. The slogan to Nike’s most recent commercial featuring women athletes comes to mind and is more relevant than ever: “Show them what crazy dreams can do.” I want to pass on the lessons I learn to motivate and encourage everyone to push themselves to heights they never thought would be possible.
HSA: Your most recent summit is Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Southern and Western hemispheres. How difficult was this compared to the often-climbed Kilimanjaro?
RK: They are worlds apart. Aconcagua is a hardcore expedition: you are on the mountain for 2-3 times longer than Kili; you must set up your own tents, porters are not part of the deal, the weather is far more unpredictable and colder, and you are required to have more technical skills. Basically, Aconcagua in one fierce Lady and Kili is more like her younger, occasionally moody, sister!
HSA: What preparation and equipment is required to summit Aconcagua?
RK: Leading up to the expedition I was mixing my training up with long and short hikes, running down steep slopes (to strengthen my knees), yoga, spinning and strength training. I like to always have fun when I train, and I kept that as my focus. One’s mental strength is also paramount, I kept pushing myself here too and signed up for things that I knew would make me feel uncomfortable. From an equipment point of view: many, many layers of good quality clothing, ice axe, harness, helmet, double boots, crampons and then all the other standard items as well. Oh, and a pee bottle was crucial – there is no ways you want to get out of your tent at 6000m when you are all snug in your -40°C sleeping bag!
HSA: What was the most difficult and most rewarding parts of the experience?
RK: Getting through a snow and wind storm at Camp 1 (just under 5000m) – wind speeds peaked at 130km/hour, our tent ropes broke and we had to fix them, and other teams even lost some tents. IT WAS WILD! This was reminder of Aconcagua’s true power! Besides being surrounded by so much soulful beauty, what made the experience was having the most amazing climbing squad and leader. I climbed with a company called Climbing the Seven Summits, I highly recommend Mike and his team! Go check them out: www.climbingthesevensummits.com
HSA: Tell us more about the #JustClimb initiative and your relationship with the Dlala Nje Foundation?
RK: As I continue to summit mountains, I want to inspire our next generation of leaders to summit their everyday peaks in education and across all aspects of their lives. My goal is to motivate our youth to take their dreams to extraordinary heights and to encourage them to unlock their inner warriors so that they can tackle their own mountains in life, whatever form they take. With this in mind, I launched the #JustClimb initiative to help raise funds for the Dlala Nje Foundation. Dlala Nje, a Zulu phrase meaning “just play,” is an NPO based in the heart of Hillbrow, Johannesburg, South Africa. All proceeds raised have gone towards the expansion and renovation of Dlala Nje’s children’s community centre. To date I have raised over R250 000, through BackaBuddy, some generous corporate sponsors who wish to remain anonymous, and Growthpoint Properties, who has been one of the flagship supporters. Go have a look at what this incredible foundation is all about: www.dlalanje.org
HSA: Your favourite hike/hiking area(s)?
RK: South Africa has so many soul enriching gems – the Drakensberg and the Cederberg are world class wilderness areas. Last year, I ventured solo to Norway- the views, the Fjords, the overwhelming beauty – all of it left me in a trance like daze of wonder. I will be back, no doubt about it! Russia surprised me. The Caucasus mountain range was hypnotic – I have never witnessed such exquisite sunsets in my life! Nothing quite beats the Himalayas though, home to the tallest mountains in the world; I was so humbled and inspired by the ancient peaks that surrounded me.
HSA: What would be one piece of encouragement you’d share with other adventurous women (and men) out there in terms of taking the leap and making adventure a way of life?
RK: Adventures are deeply revitalizing and energizing – take the leap into the unknown and go on that wild adventure you thought may be too tough for you. You will be surprised to realise what you are capable of! I suffered from severe anxiety and going on adventures (mostly solo) helped relieve me from a disease that had left me feeling trapped and paralysed for so long. And lastly, simply know that your human spirit is unstoppable, unbreakable, unshakable – so get out there and allow yourself to be fuelled by the greatness of an adventure.