Mountaineer and Motivator

Kim Hess Climbs

Kim Hess Pursues the Explorers Grand Slam
Kim's Story


There are 7 billion people that inhabit our planet,
less than 60 have ever completed the Explorers Grand Slam,
and only 12 of those are women.

The Explorers Grand Slam is the ultimate adventure achievement comprised of climbing the tallest peak on each continent, known as the Seven Summits, and completing a traverse to the North and South Pole.

Located in some of the most remote and harsh places on Earth, it is no surprise that it has a reputation of breaking even the toughest athlete.

With the Seven Summits completed, Kim is vying to become the youngest American Woman to complete the Explorers Grand Slam as she sets her sights on the poles next. With a little luck and lot of a hard work and grit, this prestigious achievement is just on the horizon.

I remember the first time I laid eyes on Mt. Everest. I was 8 years old and a dear friend of my parents was sharing her photos from her trek to Everest basecamp years before I was even born. I was mesmerized by the photos. I imagined standing on the summit it would be like going to the moon-a cute dream for a kid. I believe that was the day the seed was planted and I subconsciously began working toward conquering that dream everyday since.

Life moved on and I got older and to a certain degree I’m sure I forgot all about those beautiful pictures of Mt. Everest and my dream of climbing it. Life has a weird way of reminding you of things that you were meant to do. In high school I was given the book “Into Thin Air”-a fascinating, depressing, and tragic story of death on Mt. Everest. Most people probably read this tale and came away with fear of the mountain-my curiosity grew even stronger. A few years down the road when I was a freshman in college, the Discovery Channel debuted their TV series “Everest: Beyond the Limit”. I was 100% hooked. All of the images I had in my head of what it would be like to climb Mt. Everest were real. I could hear the sounds of crampons on ladders and crunching in the snow. I could hear the desperate breathe in each climber as they pushed higher and higher. It was real. Could I do that?

Although I was hooked on the three year TV series, it seemed impossible, and without knowing I diverted my path to traveling the world. I wasn’t ready, or at least I can say that now looking back.

Upon my return from traveling the world for two years, my oldest brother Steven challenged me (us) to climb the Seven Summits. I had no idea what those were. He kindly explained that The Seven Summits were the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. I agreed without a moments hesitation.

We began our journey in February of 2011 climbing Aconcagua, the largest peak in South America and the largest peak outside of the Himalaya mountain range. The following year we climbed Mt. Elbrus the largest peak in Europe, and Kilimanjaro the largest peak in Africa. In July of 2013 we climbed Denali (Mt. McKinley) which is the largest peak in North America.

Our plan was to head to Mt. Everest the following May of 2014, but my life took a drastic turn, and for the better in hind-sight. I had an unfortunate accident while descending Denali and severely broke my arm. I was devastated. After an emergency evacuation off the mountain I found myself in surgery a few days later. I felt like everything I had worked so hard for was all gone. Would I ever get my life back? Not only did I have a broken arm, but I had a broken foot as well from an accident before the climb. I literally couldn’t do anything. Getting dressed was the easiest part of my day and even that took about an hour. I couldn’t do the things I loved to do. No skiing, mountain biking, running, tennis, walking, swimming, or climbing. I couldn’t even put my own hair in a ponytail without help.

One day I woke up and decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and start appreciated what I have. I acknowledged that I’m not invincible and a fully functioning body should never be taken for granted. I had a bit of a rebirth and the moment I turned to positive thoughts things started moving in the direction I wanted. I wasn’t meant to climb Mt. Everest in May of 2014 and breaking my arm was the perfect detour. Tragedy struck Mt. Everest in 2014 killing 16 Sherpa in the iconic Khumbu Glacier. If only I had the ability to see into the future, I might not have been so depressed by missing that climbing season.

Three surgeries and more physical therapy than I care to remember I was officially discharged as a patient. Although my doctor gave me the okay to return to any activity I wanted as long as it didn’t hurt, I don’t think he knew what my next move would be. Two weeks later I signed up for Mt. Everest and here I sit at basecamp staring at the mountain that I’ve been dreaming about for 22 years. It’s breathtaking. It’s bigger and louder than I could have ever imagined.

I’ve lived by the motto: Don’t let your dreams be dreams. I set my eyes on the impossible and I’ve done the impossible to achieve it. Life sends you curve balls and people who will tell you you are incapable of things. I welcome the curve balls and the disbelievers because that makes the ending so much more satisfying!

Read more

“In the end, we only REGRET the chances we didn’t take.”

Kim Hess, Love Story, UC Health

Kim Hess – My Story

UCHealth – “Kim Hess, My Life, My Story”

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Kim's Story
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Mountaineer Motivator Storyteller

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Mountaineer Motivator Storyteller

Kim’s passion for climbing and adventure is amplified by the opportunity to share her journey with others. Kim captivates audiences with hair-raising stories about the adventurer’s spirit along with everyday lessons for life and business; many told with the unfiltered humor and candor that only Kim can deliver.

Her road has not always been easy, and through tales of failure, roadblocks, and summits she dives into important lessons to be utilized in all facets of life. Emphasizing self-reliance and determination and the importance of endurance, perspective, and tenacity, Kim has a way of making you believe that you can achieve anything, that an obstacle is nothing to be feared and that your dreams are indeed closer than you think.

Her positive, upbeat, stick-with-it, dream-the-impossible dream attitude is infectious, and she is sure to leave audiences feeling inspired to tackle whatever challenges get tossed their way.


“Kim inspired the girls to want to be her and to engage in the challenges of life, she motivated the young women to yearn for outdoor exploration and to find their own life purpose.”  – Denver School Educator

“I could not stop thinking about your story and I just wanted to reiterate my gratitude for the opportunity to hear it.  So thank you again and I look forward to seeing updates as you continue your dream…” – Student at Metro State University, Denver

“She was AWESOME! The nursing leaders as they left for the day shared how they were in awe of her and appreciative of the boost.” – UCHealth

“Thank you very much for presenting last night. Your story is absolutely amazing! I could have listened to you all night and I think it was a great way to end the evening.” – Editor at Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Explorers Grand Slam


Kim Hess peruses the Explorers Grand Slam


South America’s tallest mountain is Aconcagua, standing tall at 22,841 ft (6962m). Perched in the Andes Mountain Range between Chile and Argentina, this mountain tends to be underestimated for its difficulty and grueling ascent.


The tallest mountain in Europe is Mt. Elbrus, topping out at 18,510 ft (5642m). Located in the Caucasus Mountains on the border of Georgia and Russia, this mountain is essentially climbed in one big push from basecamp.


The tallest mountain in Africa is Mt. Kilimanjaro, topping out at 19,340 ft (5895m). Located in the country of Tanzania, this mountain is special because you travel through 5 different climatic zones beginning in the jungle and ending on a glacier and is an inactive volcano.


Also known as Mt. McKinley, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America rising 20,320ft (6194m) above sea level. Some mountaineers believe Denali is more challenging than climbing Mt. Everest because it towers almost 18,000ft about the surrounding tundra, giving it more vertical rise than Mt. Everest.


The tallest mountain in Asia, and the world, is Mt. Everest standing at an astounding 29,035 ft (8850m). Mt. Everest is over 60 million years old and formed from the Indian tectonic plate pushing up and against the Asian plate. Lying on the border of China and Nepal, there are multiple routes to the summit.


Mount Vinson Massif: The highest mountain on the continent of Antarctica is Mt Vinson Massif peaking at 16,066ft (4,897m). It’s no surprise that this mountain is known as the coldest of the Seven Summits due to it’s location and harsh dry environment.


Mt. “Kozzie” is that tallest mountain in Australia with an elevation of 7,310ft (2228m). Located in New South Wales, this is the easiest of the Seven Summits as it is a simple walk to the summit and back.


The northernmost point on Earth, found at latitude 90° North, where all meridians of longitude meet and the only direction is south. It’s located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean amidst waters 4,000 meters deep that are covered with constantly shifting sea ice 2-3 meters thick.


The southernmost point on Earth, found at latitude 90 degrees South, lies on the continent of Antarctica that is 1½ times the size of the USA, twice the size of Australia, and 58 times the size of the UK. It has 90% of the world’s ice and 70% of the world’s fresh water.

The Explorers Grand Slam


Stories from the Seven Summits



Images from the Seven Summits

Partner with Kim


Want to join the team?

Although I may be the one physically taking on this challenge, the Explorers Grand Slam is impossible to achieve without your support! Do you or your company want to be a part of history? Let’s smash some records, protect our planet, and inspire the next generation of adventurers together!

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”

— Walter Bagehot

Kim’s partners:

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Drop me a line.

For speaking engagement bookings, partnership opportunities, press inquiries or just to say hi, drop me a line at or use the form below.

    “The only person who can stop you from achieving anything in life is yourself.”

    — Kim Hess

    Contact Kim


    Kim Hess… in the Press

    Tips and Tricks to Crush Your Goals

    January 2020

    Kim Hess

    May 2019

    Climbing the Seven Summits

    Nov. 30, 2018

    Facing Fear and Conquering the Worlds Seven Summits with Mountaineer, Kim Hess

    Launch Living Podcast
    February 26, 2018

    Steamboat adventurer Kim Hess prepares to bag 7th summit in epic quest to climb each continent’s tallest peak

    By Scott Franz
    Steamboat Today
    February 23, 2018

    Kim Hess Bags Sixth of Seven Summit Challenge

    Big Agnes Campfire Chronicles

    Steamboat woman closes in on lofty goal to climb highest peak on all seven continents

    By John Meyer,
    The Denver Post

    Episode 3: Kim Hess climbs Mount Everest

    By Joel Reichenberger
    21 Pairs of Shoes Podcast

    A picture’s worth: Kim Hess climbed Mount Everest and came back with more than her photo

    By Joel Reichenberger
    Steamboat Today

    Colorado woman works toward climbing “Seven Summits”

    By Kerry Leary
    9 News Denver

    Colorado’s Kim Hess climbs Mount Everest, aims to complete “Seven Summits”

    By John Meyer
    The Denver Post

    Coloradans summit Mount Everest; one shows Broncos pride

    By Chuck Hickey
    Fox 31 Denver

    Kim Hess, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa reach Everest summit

    By Joel Reichenberger
    Steamboat Today

    Steamboat woman summits Everest … with Broncos flag!

    By Allison Sylte
    9 News Denver

    Woman Summits Mt. Everest With Broncos Flag

    CBS4 Denver

    Colorado woman takes Denver Broncos flag to summit of Mount Everest

    By Anica Padilla
    ABC 7 News/Denver Sun Times

    broncos THIS is #Horsepower!

    Denver Bronco’s Instagram

    Avalanche survivor returns to Mount Everest

    The Weather Channel

    Colorado climbers describe the havoc wreaked on Everest by earthquake

    By John Meyer
    The Denver Post

    Kim Hess – An Earthquake on Mt Everest

    Steamboat Adventure Magazine

    Steamboat climbers reported safe after Everest avalanche

    By Joel Reichenberger
    Steamboat Today

    Kim Hess’ high life coming to EverestSteamboat Springs climber “always up for a challenge”

    By John Meyer
    The Denver Post

    Everest: The Only Way Is Up

    By Jennie Lay
    Steamboat Magazine

    Grandeur, glory and a broken arm on Denali for a Colorado woman

    By John Meyer
    The Denver Post

    Steamboat woman en route to Denali, hopes to climb the Seven Summits

    By John Meyer
    The Denver Post