American woman completes the 'Adventure Grand Slam' - the holy grail of adventure tourism

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The Independent Online

Fans of adventure tourism have a new hero in Alison Levine, who recently joined the elite list of adventurers to complete the "Adventure Grand Slam" - despite being born with a life-threatening heart defect.

The Adventure Grand Slam - a grueling challenge that involves climbing to the highest peak on all seven continents and skiing to both the North and the South Poles - is seen as one of the toughest challenges on the planet for intrepid climbers.

According to Harry Kikstra of climbing website 7summits.com, fewer than 300 people have succeeded in climbing to the summit of the highest peak on every continent (Denali, Aconcagua, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Vinson Massif, Carstensz Pyramid and Mount Everest), and even fewer have also reached the two poles.

The Seven Summit achievement was first recorded by Richard "Dick" Bass, an American skier and adventurer, in 1985.

Levine, a former Wall Street investment manager, became the first American woman to complete the Adventure Grand Slam in June and the first American to complete a 600-mile (965 km) ski traverse via the Messner Route across Antartica to the South Pole.

The 38-day journey was completed in sub-zero temperatures by skiing ten hours daily with some 150 pounds (68 kg) of equipment attached, quite an achievement considering that before heart surgery, she couldn't even climb a flight of stairs.

Find out more about completing the Adventure Grand Slam at http://7summits.com/ or at http://www.adventurepeaks.com/seven-summits/index.html

Find out more about Dick Bass and his Everest achievement at http://www.everestnews.com/history/climbers/dickbass.htm

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