Silvia Vasquez-Lavado

Fortune Magazine Online

For Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, who works in the design and implementation of corporate systems at eBay (No. 172), mountain climbing isn’t just a hobby—it’s healing. As a child in Peru, Vasquez-Lavado, a mountaineer, endured a period of sexual violence that would haunt her for much of her adult life. It wasn’t until she had the opportunity to trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in 2005 that she began to feel healed. She was not prepared to summit then, but she resolved to return—but only for a cause.

Years later, in 2014, Vasquez-Lavado founded Courageous Girls, a non-profit group dedicated to helping victims of sexual violence find their own sense of peace and closure through trekking. “I decided to turn survivors into empowered people by helping them find that inner strength within themselves. It is so hard to do with so much shame inside of you,” she says. Vasquez-Lavado has already foot the bill for the first group of young women to make the journey. The women, all Nepalese, have been studying English, practicing meditation, and training for a climb up to Mount Everest Base Camp this fall. At that point, Vasquez-Lavado hopes to continue on to the top, as she promised herself she would a decade ago.

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A list of Silvia’s Recent Media Interviews

Rei Magazine Online
Meet the First Openly Gay Woman to Complete the Seven Summits

On June 23, 2018 Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, age 43, stood on the summit of Denali, the highest mountain in North America. She was the first openly gay woman to complete the Seven Summits, a challenge to climb the highest mountain on each continent.

Her first words atop the peak, captured via video, were “Nature doesn’t discriminate. Love is love.”

Vasquez-Lavado’s journey had begun 13 years prior, in August of 2005, on a healing meditation retreat with her mother in Peru. In her mind’s eye, she saw herself embracing her younger self and walking among mountains. As a child she had been sexually abused and bullied, and she wanted to heal her past self. She could have taken the vision metaphorically, but she took it literally.
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