Clarence native aims to become first transgender athlete to climb Everest

Clarence native aims to become first transgender athlete to climb Everest

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Erin Parisi

Clarence native Erin Parisi at the peak of Mount Aconcagua, Argentina, on Feb. 9, 2019. (Courtesy TranSending)

Erin Parisi, a Clarence native who wants to become the first transgender athlete to climb the highest mountains on all seven continents, is setting her sights next on Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet.

Parisi, who already has climbed the highest mountains in Africa, Europe, Australia and South America, plans her Everest expedition for the spring of 2021.

The costs of the climbing fee to the government of Nepal, transportation and equipment total about $45,000.

Parisi, who now lives in Denver, hopes to raise about two-thirds of that with an online fundraising plan.

Its goal is to collect $29,029 – a dollar for every foot of Everest's height – by July 15.

Merrell, an outdoor clothing company, kicked off Parisi's gofumdme.com fund drive with a $5,000 donation Friday, Parisi said.

In 2018, she founded a not-for-profit organization called TranSending to raise the profile of transgender athletes and help raise money for her quest.

Her last big climb, in February 2019, was the South American leg of the Seven Summits, 22,841-foot Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.

Parisi intended last month to climb Mount Denali in Alaska, the highest mountain in North America, but the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the National Park Service office that processes climbing permits, forcing Parisi to change plans.

Nepal charges about $11,000 per person to climb Everest and requires the hiring of local help.

"For an expedition team, you're probably looking at 20 to 30 people, depending on the various levels of support," Parisi said.

The team Parisi will join will be led by her mountaineering mentor, Mike Hamill, whose website says he has reached the summit of Everest six times.

"Denali and Everest are actually about equally difficult," Parisi said. "I would like to do both of them next year, if possible back-to-back."

That would leave Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica, as the last target. Parisi said she'd like to try that in December 2021, when it's summer near the South Pole.

That would cost another $45,000, mostly to pay off a Russian company that Parisi said has a monopoly on transportation into the area.

But first things first.

"I would love to see somebody from Buffalo on top of Mount Everest," said Parisi, who was born Aron Parisi and graduated from Clarence High School in 1995 and the University at Buffalo in 1999.

For transgender climber, 'Seven Summits' challenge is about more than the mountains

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