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Sharon Wood

First North American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest

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Sharon Wood: First North American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest

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Mount Everest was a culmination of an odyssey that began at age twelve when her father took her up her first mountain. By the time she was seventeen she was devoting all her time to climbing. Laurie Skreslet met Sharon at Outward Bound and knew she was out of the ordinary. “It was obvious to me the moment I saw her that she was committed, grounded, determined, focused, persevering…overflowing with potential.”

Her first break came in 1977 when she joined an all womens expedition to Mount Logan. Then in 1983 she had her first big success with the Cassin Ridge on Mount Mckinley which “really changed my attitude. I didn't see myself so much as a woman but as a climbing partner. I came back with a lot of confidence.” Expeditions to Makalu (1984), the south face of Aconcagua (1984) and the northeast face of Huascaran Sur (1985) followed. By 1986 she realized that she was “…ready for anything.” Her ascent of Mount Everest by the difficult west ridge and north face was first for a North American woman, but as her friend Albi Sole recalled, “It's not because she was a woman that she got to the top, it's because she was the right person for the job”

After Everest she had moved on to other adventures. Much in demand as a public speaker, she travels North America sharing her experiences and her approach to risk. In 1988 she married and is now raising a family. Much of her time nowadays is taken up organizing a private school she started in her home town of Canmore, Alberta. In 1997 Sharon received the Summit of Excellence Award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Sharon explained her motives in a recent interview. “The constants that I have strived to maintain through all of these things is …the steep learning curve, the intensity, perhaps a certain degree of risk….and tremendous adventure…and that ongoing, never ending quest for self knowledge.”
“Everest: Insights from a higher ground”
Sharon Wood teaches, entertains and inspires with her personal story about reaching the top of Mount Everest. Stunning still images and video illustrate the journey of a small team who shared a bold vision to climb the highest mountain in the world by a more difficult route and with fewer physical and financial resources.

Her story powerfully demonstrates how exemplary teamwork and leadership can render the impossible possible. Sharon effectively conveys both the individual and the team perspective by stressing the importance of honoring her own passion and dreams while fulfilling a role as a member of a team - a team committed to a shared vision.

Sharon's style is personal and moving. She uses powerful anecdotes and vivid analogies to convey the elements that parallel the challenges of striving individuals and organizations. Sharon's authentic, humorous and honest approach evokes listeners to consider the value of their own resources and opportunities.

“To the Summit and Beyond” is more than an adventure story - it is a timeless, universal story about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. For anyone wanting to be more effective in his or her work or life, Sharon's story is a powerful inspiration.Each presentation is tailored to the focus and timelines of the audience. Based on the objectives of the client the following themes can be incorporated:
  • The power of passion and curiosity
  • Fostering a shared vision
  • Accomplishing more with less
  • Thriving through change and adversity
  • Integrating personal aspirations with team power
  • Looking outside the box for creative solutions
  • Maintaining the momentum and staying the course
  • Believing “better is possible”
  • Firing on all cylinders
  • Expanding possibilities
  • Maximizing courage - diminishing fear
  • Leading from where you are - personal leadership
  • Embracing the value of diversity
  • Being and living our potential
  • Performing versus conforming
  • Recognizing, giving and accepting support

I feared these people were too "sophisticated" to respond to a motivational speaker. I couldn't have been more wrong. Your story, and the slides and the video that went with it were fascinating. You clearly understood the problems we faced, and tailored your presentation to our needs. Your low-key style set off the message like black velvet behind diamonds."
RBC Group

"Sharon Wood Spoke to over five hundred RE/MAX sales people at a sales rally. I have helped organize these events for seven years, and she had the greatest positive response we've have ever had. She left the audience feeling ordinary people can do extraordinary things, and they were as charged up as if they had gone up Everest themselves."

"Most important they said that they could relate to your accomplishment and story in a way that they had not experienced with other speakers. Not that they thought they could climb Everest, but that through personal commitment and teamwork they could take their ordinary skills and develop them in a way that would allow them to deliver more both personally and professionally than had thought possible."
GlaxoSmith Kline
Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by the University of Calgary

Appointed to the Honor Roll for Outstanding Achievement by Canada’s weekly news magazine, MacLean’s

Recipient of the inaugural Tenzing Norgay Award as “Professional Mountaineer of the Year” from the American Alpine Club and the New York Explorer’s Club

Recipient of the Bill March Summit Award of Excellence

Awarded a Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada
American Airlines
Amex Canada
Bank of Montreal
Campbell Soup Company
GE Capital
Hewlett-Packard Company
Investors Group
Macdonald’s Restaurants
Mattel Canada Inc.