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Dreams always come true – conquering the highest mountains around the world

Marin Minamiya, a second year student at the School of Political Science and Economics, has successfully reached North America’s Denali summit (the former Mount McKinley , renamed in August 31, 2015) on July 4. She has climbed the highest summits in all seven continents, becoming the youngest Japanese to achieve such grand accomplishment.

In prior to this triumph, Marin was also named as the youngest Japanese to make the peak of Mount Everest on May 23 (Mon). She kindly accepted our interview right before her departure for Denali.

At Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest summit

“A sensational feeling took over, and I couldn’t stop crying,” Marin told us as she described how she felt when she became the youngest Japanese ever to reach the top of Mount Everest.

This led her to the last step of realizing her childhood dream of conquering the highest summits of all seven continents (Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Carstensz Pyramid, Elbrus, Everest, and Denali). Climbing Everest which took over 60 days was no smooth task.

“Only seven out of the 14 of our team made it to the top. We were all of different nationalities, and I was the only woman. Climbing Everest is a battle against nature. The day before I attempted to reach its peak, the course became congested, and some people got severe frostbites.”

Luckily, the weather cleared up with blue skies when Marin decided to make her move. She was in her best condition, and Marin was able to successfully reach the peak safely without any injuries.

In Antarctica

Marin, who had spent her high school days in Hong Kong due to her father’s work, had become interested in attending Waseda when she was a junior high school student. She says she was attracted to the University’s ideology of respecting each student’s independence and uniqueness as well as the supportive environment for athletes. After being accepted to Waseda, she was financially responsible for her own living cost and tuition. She has even independently searched and negotiated with possible sponsors for her expedition activities.

“I believe this is my strength. From my university life to climbing, I have planned and organized everything by myself. Starting from not having any connections, I have emailed over 1000 people in search of sponsors. Also, because I have lived abroad for so long, I feel that Japanese students lack self-assertion and autonomy. Sometimes, I feel that being such an ordinary student is not enough.”

Though Marin points out that Japanese students fear change and do not challenge themselves enough, she comments she has a very different impression of Waseda students.

“When I entered Waseda University, I felt it was exactly the place I had imagined, in a good way. A vital energy runs throughout the institution, and many students are highly motivated. There are many international students, including one of my good friends. Because everyone comes from a different background, their ideas and beliefs influence me positively.”

Marin’s adventurous life of traveling around the world to climb the highest mountains may appear glamorous, but she says that she has also experienced failures.

“When I went hiking in Japan last year, I slipped 250m downward and spent time alone until the rescue team came to save me. I was very fortunate that I didn’t die, but it was a life-threatening experience.”

To begin with, there is no easy way out of climbing any of the world-famous peaks. There is constant frustration and anxiety, yet Marin continues summon up courage and take on such challenges with optimism.

Climbing mountains means always being aware of danger

“Climbing Mount Everest was not a goal but part of a continuous process. I don’t really have time to be immersed in deep emotion. After completing the 7 summit challenge, I am looking forward to exploring the North Pole in April next year and participating in the Grand Slam (this includes the 7 continents and the North and South Pole).”

Lastly, we asked her to give a message for Waseda students.

“Each person should attempt to reach their goals at their own pace. There is no fast or slow in the process, but the most important thing is to be conscious of what you want to achieve, your style. I think many Waseda students are already know this. I want everyone to remember that dreams always come true. I actually climb real mountains, but I’m sure everyone has their own peaks to reach. let’s continue to live our lives to the fullest.”

In the future, Marin hopes successfully complete the Grand Slam and do something related to the Tokyo Olympics. She also wishes to explore the sea someday.

instagram: marin_minamiya

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