Connector September 2023

CONNECTOR.AE 64 CONNECTOR.AE 65 Lifestyle Lifestyle Wanting to find something that was challenging but achievable, Caroline Leon decided to scale the seven volcanic summits around the world, to test her physical strength and turn her accident into something more, saying, “I decided to do the Volcanic Seven Summits, and that is kind of how this journey took place. It was really just for personal growth. My accident was so traumatic that I needed something equally as challenging and different to be able to get my mind out of that place. I used something that was physical as a parameter, to be able to challenge myself in a way that I would never be disabled again.” From there, Caroline Leon started training label that I had to live with for the rest of my life, and that was a choice that I could have. At the time, I was just exploring the idea of what that was.” While still mulling over the idea, Caroline Leon visited loved ones back home in Australia, where her friend invited her to go hiking up Mount Kosciuszko, which is the tallest mountain in the country. As she was still healing from her injuries, the oneday hike took a toll on her, and on the way down from the mountain, ended up in a lot of pain. After the park rangers were called in for help, one of them joked about trying out a Guinness World Record, which stuck with her and led her to where she is now. Caroline Leon added, “I remember coming home, and these two ideas were sitting in my mind, this idea about doing a Guinness World Record and then this idea about not being disabled anymore. I do not know how they fused together, but it was almost like, if I did a Guinness World Record and I managed to achieve it, there was no way that I could ever call myself disabled anymore, because I had done something that was so out there that there would be a very definitive line that would be drawn along the sand, like an identity shift, that I am not disabled, and I just started to work on that.” While sharing her experience, Caroline Leon said, “The team that I was climbing with were very skilled, so they were walking very fast, and up until that point, I had been training to just walk slowly. It was a challenge to try and keep up with my team. When I got to Sidley, there were only 17 other women who had ever climbed this mountain in the world, and there were 60 people in total. So I was part of a handful of people who had successfully summited this mountain. It was difficult in its own way because we had some very long days and carried a lot of weight.” to climb the volcanic summits. While getting started, she first got accustomed to walking longer distances, starting with five to ten kilometres every day, and then moved on to carrying heavy packs, which is required to carry essentials while hiking the volcanic summits, as well as weight training to get stronger and build endurance. The seven volcanic summits around the world include Ojos del Salado in South America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Pico de Orizaba in North America, Damavand in Asia, Mount Giluwe in Oceania and Mount Sidley in Antarctica. Caroline Leon partnered with global logistics and international shipping company DHL, and in 2022 successfully climbed Ojos del Salado, Mount Sidley and Pico de Orizaba. However, due to visa problems, she was unable to climb Mount Giluwe, and went on to climb Damavand. During that hike, one of her friends collapsed due to exhaustion, which led them to descend the mountain. From there, Caroline Leon completed scaling Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Damavand and Mount Giluwe, completing the challenge within 180 days.