After a year worth of training, 37-year-old Aretha Duarte is the first Black Latin American woman to climb Mount Everest. Duarte, who hails from Brazil, made history climbing up the world’s highest mountain in May.

“May 23, 2021, the day I made history and reached the top of the world, but mostly it was also the day the power of a simple question changed my life forever: ‘What moves you?’ Duarte said on Instagram, adding, “I never thought it would be possible.”


She documented her climb on social media and details how even with 12.5 months of training, the mountain challenged her physically and mentally.

“The difficulties in the expedition are different for each member of the group. I had dozens during the entire expedition. Some more challenging ones such as pulmonary edema and retinal burns, each corrected within two days of medical care. Luckily there was time for treatment and qualified people to guide me.”


Pulmonary edema is a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs. This fluid collects in the numerous air sacs in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. It’s typically caused by high elevation or exposure to toxins.

Even with the difficulties, Duarte said remembering her purpose in life is what kept her going. She says the key to success on the mountain is having a purpose and not just a reason.

“Since, from the beginning, my ‘summit’ was my home, my mother and my brothers […]At the end of the day, it’s about that: surpassing expected results in harmony with the environment in which we find ourselves,” Duarte said on Instagram.


Duarte also says that the support she received from her teammates, with who she also trained during the year, also played a significant role in not giving up.

“Our team is made up of human beings who breathe high performance, even when the air is thin. They open our minds to the impossible, even when routes close before our eyes,” Duarte wrote.

As of April 2021, only 5,788 people have climbed the mountain.