Dolly Lefever Becomes First American Woman to Complete the Seven Summits
Seven Summit Success Story

In the early 1990s, Dolly Lefever became known world-wide as first Alaskan woman to climb 29,029-foot Mount Everest in 1993 and the first American woman to complete climbs of the Seven Summits in 1994.

The two mountaineering achievements permanently put Lefever’s stamp on the mountains. Professionally a nurse-midwife, Lefever did not tout her achievements, but let others shout her name.

A small woman at under 5-foot-4 and 120 pounds, Lefever possessed king-sized determination. Turned-back by vicious winds at 26,000 feet on her first Everest attempt, she had to wait four years to financially afford a second try.

Lefever was 47 when she stood atop Mount Everest on May 11, 1993, a woman on the top of the world who counter-intuitively had a fear of heights. What ran through her mind on the momentous occasion was this: “I did it! I did it! My dream came true! ”

Others were competing in high-profile manners on richly funded expeditions to become the initial American woman to climb the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents. Mount Everest (Asia), Mount McKinley (now Denali, North America), Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Elbrus (Europe), Vinson (Antarctica) and Koscuiszko (Australia) were the coveted summits adding up to one big prize.

On March 11, 1994, Lefever took one of the most significant walks of her life, ascending Koscuiszko to reach her seventh summit. Under the radar compared to the fanfare attending others’ attempts, Dolly Lefever completed the challenge in her own quiet style, returned to Alaska and went back to work.

— Lew Freedman