Between semesters at Columbia University, Sasha DiGiulian is summering at the Mordwand in the Swiss Alps, which sounds like a lovely getaway until you find out "Mordwand" is German for "murder wall." Per CBS News, the 22-year-old world-class climber is trying to become the first woman to scale the 13,000-foot Eiger mountain the hard way: by ascending the dangerous north face of the peak, a sheet of limestone that's more than a mile high and that was once described by a British mountaineer as "an obsession for the mentally deranged." Even DiGiulian, who's been tweeting terrifying pics of her climb as she goes, acknowledges the task before her—one that's claimed dozens of lives—telling Sports Illustrated, "This is the hardest route up the Eiger."
Not that DiGiulian's an amateur. She's been climbing since she was 6 and nabbed top honors in national and world rock-climbing championships, CBS notes. Yet she still gets discouragement on her attempt, which she hopes to complete next week. "People saying like, 'Little girls don't belong on the Eiger,'" she told CBS last night in a video chat from the mountain. Not that it's stopped her, even with unpredictable weather and 12- to 18-hour days. "I think that fear is inevitable, but I don't think that fear needs to be inhibiting," she says. She also keeps in mind her late dad's advice ("Have fun, be safe, and do your best") and her dream to be a female pioneer. "When other women open the floodgates to showing that something is possible, then all of a sudden you see progression in a sport," she notes. (Hundreds were stranded on Everest in April).