A Brazilian woman became the first Black Latina Woman to “conquer the highest place in the world” when she completed her journey to the top of Mount Everest last month.
Aretha Duarte, 37, completed the trek on May 23 and said in an Instagram post that day, “No dream is greater than our ability to realize it.”
After training for the monumental journey for 12 and 1/2 months in order to take on the 29,029 foot mountain, Duarte documented the physically and mentally demanding trip via Instagram.
She applauded members of her team in a post, writing, “Our team is made up of human beings who breathe high performance, even when the air is thin. They open our minds to the impossible, even when routes close before our eyes.”
Duarte suffered challenging moments on her journey toward Earth’s highest point, which borders China and Nepal. After developing pulmonary edema, likely a result of the high elevation or exposure to toxins, she suffered from coughing and chest pain.
She wrote in Portuguese in Instagram, “I wanted to write a beautiful text to tell how surreal this mountain is and how much supernatural strength it took for me to get to the top with health and safety, but I’m still digesting this unique and rare experience that I lived. So for now I will leave my gratitude registered here for all the encouragement, support, prayers and good vibes emanating from me.”
Duarte was born on the outskirts of Campinas, a city in southeast Brazil, and first became interested in mountaineering while studying Physical Education in college. She’s climbed other mountains in the past but first became determined to climb Everest after seeing a social media post in 2019. In March 2020 she started the hashtag #ArethaNoEverest and officially set her mind on the goal. She collected recycled materials to raise money for the trip, collecting a total of 130 tons.
Previously, Duarte climbed Mount Aconcagua, the highest point outside of Asia located in Argentina, five times.
Duarte is the sixth Brazilian to make it to the top of the mountain. Sibusiso Vilane became the first Black person in the world to summit Everest in 2003 after 60 difficult days. Sophia Danenberg became the first Black women to successfully complete the trek in 2006.
By April of 2021, about 5,788 people had successfully scaled the mountain. At least 300 people have died trying to scale it.
The mountain was closed amid the pandemic but reopened in November with restrictions. Just last month at least 100 people on the mountain were sickened by the virus.
Duarte told her followers she’d return home to Brazil to celebrate her accomplishment.