Renowned mountain climber visits Springdale

Sarah Burton
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Valmont Academy student inspired by speaker

Dr. TA Loeffler knows what it takes to pursue a dream and reach extraordinary heights.

The St. John's native has climbed five of the Seven Summits - the highest peaks in each of the seven continents, and is planning to conquer the remaining two as well; Mount Vinson and then Mount Everest, which is her ultimate goal.

The renowned speaker is a professor of Outdoor Recreation at Memorial University. She has received international awards and recognition for her work. She visited Springdale on January 26, and spoke about her journeys to roughly 200 spectators at the Indian River High School lecture theatre. Her theme was "Drawing Inspiration from New Edges."

Dr. TA Loeffler is originally from St. John's and is a professor of Outdoor Recreation at MUN. She was in Springdale on Tuesday, January 26, to speak to an audience at the Indian River High School lecture theatre.

Dr. TA Loeffler knows what it takes to pursue a dream and reach extraordinary heights.

The St. John's native has climbed five of the Seven Summits - the highest peaks in each of the seven continents, and is planning to conquer the remaining two as well; Mount Vinson and then Mount Everest, which is her ultimate goal.

The renowned speaker is a professor of Outdoor Recreation at Memorial University. She has received international awards and recognition for her work. She visited Springdale on January 26, and spoke about her journeys to roughly 200 spectators at the Indian River High School lecture theatre. Her theme was "Drawing Inspiration from New Edges."

"Go after your Everest, whatever your Everest is," said Dr. Loeffler. "Because I believe we all have one. It might be about your schoolwork, it could be a sport that you participate in, or it could be a community service or a career you're hoping to enter, but I believe we all have an Everest," she said.

Dr. Loeffler had experienced many extreme outdoor adventures before pursuing the Seven Summits, but can recall a time in 2004 when climbing her first summit, Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America - seemed impossible.

"This is the peak that taught me about dreaming big," she said. "When I first went up to Alaska, I had half a mind to climb this thing, but when I saw this mountain from the plane I thought, 'No way. It is way too high, way too expensive, and definitely way too cold.'"

Dr. Loeffler underwent extensive fitness training to complete the first summit, which happened to coincide with her 40th birthday. She emphasized how important hard work, discipline and the support of others has been in accomplishing such goals. The speaker also explained how physically strenuous it was to keep going with the high elevations, causing her skin to swell and her stomach to become ill.

"On one particular day I climbed for six hours, then I shoveled snow for four hours in minus 25 degree temperatures, then I climbed into a tent for half a bowl of Roman noodles for my birthday supper, and then I got back out of the tent for two hours to melt drinking water. So it was for these days that I needed to train for so hard," she said.

Since climbing Mount McKinley, Dr. Loeffler has spoken to over 20,000 students throughout the province.

Repeatedly, she noted the importance of taking footsteps towards a dream, despite the circumstances. Dr. Loeffler attempted to climb Mount Everest in 2007, but had to turn back partway due to illness. But climbing the world's highest mountain continues to be her main aspiration, even if she is only at the peak for a matter of minutes.

Grade 7 Valmont Academy student Samantha Burke was one of many high school students who attended Dr. Loeffler's presentation. The teen felt inspired by the mountaineer's words.

"I thought it was really good," said Ms. Burke. "It was amazing that she would be able to climb mountains that high, I would never be able to do something like that. I think I probably would go after my dreams after I heard her speech - it was really motivating."

Ms. Burke added that she is thinking of becoming a singer or an artist in her lifetime, noting how she enjoys drawing pictures.

Dr. Loeffler encouraged the students that their dreams, or Everests are their own to pursue, and that they must aid each other in making them happen.

"Nothing will ever be the same again and by coming together and supporting each other in going after those Everests, we make the mountains shorter for each other," said Dr. Loeffler.

Organizations: Valmont Academy, Indian River High School

Geographic location: Springdale, Mount Everest, St. John's Mount McKinley Mount Vinson North America Alaska

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