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A tale of a woman on the peak of mountains

Published : Saturday, 13 January, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 118
Raihana Sayeeda Kamal

Monica Jamaluddin is a dual citizen American and Canadian of Bangladeshi-origin. She is an explorer at heart - always seeking to understand other cultures, the inner-workings of others and how humans relate to the world and each other.
Monica's desire to support the growth and development of others took her from Wall Street to the thriving tech community in West Africa and a triple bottom line agri-business deep in the Himalayas before bringing her back to New York City to build Sandbox Advisors.
Monica's mission in life is to help others achieve theirs. She is a creative connector who enjoys working closely with people at all levels of an organization to develop and execute strategic projects. She is most energized when helping people scale their organizations, optimize performance and implement context-sensitive solutions to challenging problems.
Monica serves on the board of 'Be The Change - Global Outreach'. She received a Bachelor of Business Administration with a focus on Finance and Philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin.
Monica finds balance in her life through meditation, spending time outdoors, working out, painting, and playing with her two adorable poodles, Avi and Charles.
"I am most attracted to things that sound challenging and uncomfortable. I believe growth happens outside of the comfort zone so I'm always looking for ways to push those boundaries. Every time I take on something where I'm unsure if I'll be able to do it and I come out on the other side, I learn more about how far I can push myself.  I build a little bit more confidence in myself and my capabilities. It's very empowering… plus, I'm a sucker for the adrenaline rush!"
So far, she has summited about three mountains: Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Toubkal, Mt. Whitney. Other smaller hikes include Everest Base Camp, hiking in the Andes on the way to Machu Picchu, and some other smaller peaks in Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Bhutan.
"Earlier this year I attempted to climb to Malchin Peak in the Altai Mountain range in Mongolia but the weather turned bad when we were about 200m from the summit and the rangers at base camp made us come back down. I definitely hope to go back and attempt it again one day."
About her experience on the toughest climb, she says, "Each climb has its own challenges, I'm not sure if I can say one climb was the toughest. On Mt. Kilimanjaro I got altitude sickness almost as soon as we began the final ascent; every few steps felt like I had run 3 miles. My guide only allowed me to stay at the summit for about 5 minutes to take some quick photos because he knew I needed to get down to a lower altitude quickly. There's a chance I killed a few brain cells on that climb."
"Mt. Toubkal had one of the steepest ascents! We had to walk sideways up the slope for the first hour; we started at 4am so it was also completely dark. Once I got back down to the base camp and looked up at what we had climbed, I was glad I had done it in the dark and couldn't really see what was ahead of me - I might have just headed home instead."
"Mt. Whitney was tough because we didn't take enough time to acclimate and climbed up and back down in one day. It was roughly 15 hours of hiking with endless switchbacks and I hadn't done my research about the route so I had no idea what lay ahead of me. Poorly set expectations plus high altitude made for a very rough day.  
Every time I climb a mountain or summit a peak, it's so surreal to look back at it from the bottom. I always ask myself, "Did I really climb to the top of that thing? It's so far away, that seems impossible!" It's crazy how impossible things can when you're not in the middle of it. It feels almost like I'm in a completely different mind space during the experience."
About her trip in Antarctica, she says, "In Antarctica we didn't climb any mountains, though it was harsher conditions than you would normally expect on a cruise! But we got to get up close to adorable penguins and seals, watch whales swimming by, and the views were incredible! The trip to Antarctica was special because me and my dad went together to celebrate my 25th birthday and it was also the 7th continent for both of us to visit. I'm lucky to have been able to experience such a cool place with my Dad and build these awesome memories with him."
I do love cold weather and attribute it to being born in Canada in the winter time. And I love the feeling when the chilly air hits my lungs, it's refreshing and rejuvenating - whether on top of a mountain or otherwise.
"Hiking has always been a great meditative experience for me - my mind is so focused on making sure I'm not tripping over the rocky terrain or falling off the edge that I can only think of what's in front of me. It makes me feel alive. I might be addicted," she concludes.







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