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On May 9, 2016, as New Yorkers gather at Night for NYC events across the city, Lisa Ruiz will depart for Anchorage, Alaska and begin her journey to the top of Denali. A longtime supporter, Lisa is dedicating the climb to the Robin Hood Foundation. We are excited that our #NYC4NYC efforts will go beyond the city and honored by Lisa’s support.

To follow Lisa’s climb, please visit her blog.

To donate to Lisa’s climb in support of Robin Hood, please visit her Crowdrise page.

How did you get started climbing?

Working in London in the 1990s a client of mine came back from a safari/Kilimanjaro climbing trip and his stories had me enthralled. It would be a number of years later till I got there myself and when I arrived I realized how little I knew about what I was getting into. Contrary to how climbing Kilimanjaro is marketed as a “Walk to the Roof of Africa” it is actually quite strenuous! We move quickly over a very short period of time with acclimatization being a real issue that can catch people by surprise. Thankfully I found myself with a very small, very experienced group of hikers and I learned a lot about pressure breathing, and efficient motion along the way. I remember it was also quite humbling to watch the porters race up the mountain carrying my gear on their heads! Over the years I took on more climbs that required self-sufficiency. On Denali, our team hauls all the gear. It’s a real slog, but that is what it takes!

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What motivated you to dedicate your Denali Climb to Robin Hood?

I grew up in NYC and was a kid in the 1970s. We did OK, but there often lingered the possibility that one unfortunate scenario could throw life into turmoil. I remember being very young and feeling worried about that, which in hindsight is a testament to the fact that kids can pick up on more than adults realize. I think a lot of people have those worries still and it’s really too easy to oversimplify the situations some people are in. Cycles of poverty in particular can be very persistent, especially for kids. If we are not figuring out how to break those cycles then the talent of many individuals goes untapped and that is a loss for all of us. Helping kids see beyond their current environment, giving their parents opportunities to obtain and maintain a decent quality of life and protecting the elderly are things to do because we will all go through these life cycles. I think Robin Hood hits the nail on the head on how to address different issues individually, and then piece together how their collective impact can create lasting results. I’m really motivated to “take Robin Hood with” on this climb and support for this climb has been great from so many places.

If you could tell a large group of people one thing about your climb, what would it be?

Prepare for everything — then expect the unexpected! There is so much preparation that goes into an expedition like this. Of course there is physical training and I’ve spent lots of time hauling a pack, lifting weights, running, cycling and generally preparing my heart, lungs and muscles for what is ahead. But there is also a huge mental aspect to this and up there your mind will pay tricks on you. So the ability to stay present and focus on the task at hand, one step, one haul, one day at a time is a really big part of it. I’ve tried to train bored (no music or distractions) because up there I just know things will start to feel monotonous at times and I’ll need to get through that. You also need to be flexible. Itineraries will change with the weather (and the weather will change constantly)!

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Why did you choose Denali?

Because it is hard! If it were easy everyone would go! Just getting to base camp is a major undertaking and seeing that kind of wilderness really hits me in a meaningful way. I started actively preparing for this climb a year ago and I had to show experience on other glaciers and at altitude in order to join the expedition. That said, Denali is a massive undertaking and it really stands on its own. I feel like this is the right time of my life to open up to the possibilities of this expedition and see what I am capable of. I’ve been imagining this climb too long now. It’s time to get on with it. I think this climb is going to change me the moment I step on the glacier. Then I just need to take it as it comes.

What are some challenges that you are anticipating on your climb?

Weather is a major factor on Denali and we will probably experience every different kind. Sometimes in as little as an hour. But even if the weather were fine (and it won’t be) everything is just really hard to do and takes a lot of time. Time to melt snow for water, time to set up camp and maintain camp, time to haul gear. Then the higher we go the harder it gets as we adapt to less air in every breath we take. I think patience. Patience and fortitude will be what I need to rely on most.

How is your training progressing?

At this point I am less than a month away so I’m just trying to be sure I stay healthy. I’ve put a lot of effort in so now I need to keep the body feeling well taken care of. I’m excited, a little nervous. I think that is natural. I’m at the point where I am making final decisions around clothing, and food, and how to pack since we will pack and repack then pack again many times over. I feel I’ve done all I can do — but ultimately the mountain decides if it will let me climb it! I hope it does.

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