“Sometimes you look up at a mountain and think, ‘I can’t!’ …And then you climb it anyway.”
Alison Levine is an American mountain climber, sportswoman, explorer and leadership consultant. She is the author of On the Edge and the executive producer of a documentary, The Glass Ceiling. She has ascended the highest peaks on every continent and also skied to both the North and South Poles.
Alison Levine is a history-making polar explorer and mountaineer. She served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition, climbed the highest peak on each continent and skied to both the North and South Poles—a feat known as the Adventure Grand Slam, which fewer than forty people in the world have achieved. In January 2008, she made history as the first American to complete a 600-mile traverse from west Antarctica to the South Pole following the route of legendary explorer Reinhold Messner. Levine completed this arduous journey on skis while hauling 150 pounds of her gear and supplies in a sled harnessed to her waist. She made history again in 2016 when she completed two first ascents: Hall Peak in Antarctica and Khang Karpo in Nepal. Her success in extreme environments is noteworthy given she has had three heart surgeries and suffers from Raynaud’s disease, which causes the arteries that feed her fingers and toes to collapse in cold weather—leaving her at extreme risk for frostbite.
In addition to having tackled some of the most challenging environments in the outdoors, Levine also spent time climbing the corporate ladder. She worked in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, earned an MBA from Duke University, and spent three years working for Goldman Sachs. She left Goldman in 2003 to serve as deputy finance director for Arnold Schwarzenegger in his successful bid to become Governor of California.
Levine spent four years as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership and is a board and faculty member at the Thayer Leader Development Group at West Point. She was a contributing author to the book Leadership in Dangerous Situations: A Handbook for the Armed Forces, Emergency Services and First Responders (Naval Institute Press). She also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics at Duke University.
A sought-after consultant and keynote speaker on the subject of leadership development, Levine has addressed audiences ranging from Fortune 500 companies to professional sports teams to the prestigious World Economic Forum at Davos. She is the author of the New York Times best-seller On the Edge: Leadership Lessons from Mount Everest and other Extreme Environments. Having spent prolonged periods of time in some of the world’s most dangerous and inhospitable places, she tackles the topics of creating cohesive teams, taking responsible risks and developing no-nonsense leaders that can succeed in times of uncertainty.
Levine is the founder of the Climb High Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of jobless women in western Uganda by training them to be trekking guides and porters in their local mountains, thus allowing them to earn a sustainable living wage through climbing-related tourism. Her efforts enabled the first group of local women to climb Uganda’s highest peak—Mt Stanley, and her work in Africa is the subject of the PBS documentary Living Courageously.
Levine’s newest role is that of executive producer of the upcoming documentary film The Glass Ceiling (www.theglassceilingmovie.com), which chronicles the life of Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (1961- 1993) and her quest to become the first Nepali woman to climb Mt. Everest.