In 1986, as part of a Canadian team, Sharon Wood became the first woman from the Americas to summit Mount Everest—and the first woman in the world to do so via the West Ridge from Tibet and without Sherpa support. But it’s how she got there that is truly compelling.
In Rising, the personal motivation that drove Wood to reach further and further heights are detailed through the years leading up to the career-defining climb. Often the only woman on expeditions, Wood was an outlier in a predominantly male bastion of high altitude alpine climbing. Against the backdrop of the stunning Himalayan mountains in the days before Everest became as commercialized as it is today, Wood explores the camaraderie and rivalry, the relatable challenges of falling in and out of love, and how she kept her drive to persevere. Subsequently, she recounts how she struggled with unexpected acclaim and expectations following her ascent of Everest, but ultimately found fulfilment and her place in the world.
As she tells her story today, her perspective is steeped in six decades of life experience rich with adrenalin, change, reflection and humility. It is a tale that still feels poignantly relevant—a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome all obstacles, whether mountain peaks, social expectations or self-imposed barriers.
About the author
Sharon Wood is the owner of her own speaking and mountain guiding business, Adventure Dynamics. She has co-authored an ebook with Pat Morrow, Everest: High Expectations (Bungalo Books, 2012) and has been published in several anthologies, including Everest: Eighty Years of Triumph and Tragedy (Mountaineers Press, 2001). This is her first full-length memoir. Wood can now be found in Canmore, AB, writing, public speaking and, of course, climbing mountains.
- Short-listed, Banff Mountain Book Competition: Mountain Literature
- Short-listed, Alberta Literary Awards’ Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
“Rising is sure to become a classic in the ever-burgeoning genre of climbing memoirs. By making the impossible possible, on a difficult and rarely repeated route up the world’s highest mountain, Sharon Wood’s Everest journey should inspire women and climbers the world over— challenging us to be strong, steely-eyed and present in each moment, and to persevere.”
Rising is a most welcome addition to the swaths of mountain literature about Himalayan exploration and exploits on Everest. But make no mistake, this is no conventional tale of reaching the highest point on earth. Much like her early expeditions to the Greater Ranges, Sharon Wood’s book is caught in the masculine world of climbing and national heroism but it stands worlds apart. Not that Wood isn’t a hero. Being the first North American woman to summit Everest and via the daunting West Ridge, a previously unclimbed approach from Tibet, is evidence of that. The real signs of bravery lie in her writing, in her ability to convey the vulnerability and fear every climber feels whilst facing the challenges of adventures at altitude. Rising is filled with such honesty and modesty, the reader is often left to wonder how the author will overcome her frequent moments of doubt. Emotional, poetic and heartfelt, Rising proves that not only is Wood skilled when summiting peaks, her words on the page shine with integrity proving she is a force to be reckoned with as she sets a new bar for literature in conveying the truth of the mountaineering world.
Joanna Croston, Festival Director, Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival
“More than a superb, nail-biting account of her ascent of Mt. Everest, Rising is Sharon Wood's deeply personal reflection on loyalty, gratitude, and the unbreakable bonds formed on the mountain.”
Bernadette McDonald, award-winning author of Art of Freedom
“A beautiful, totally absorbing story full of courage and resilience. True to its title, Rising is much more than just a climbing narrative. It’s an ascent in so many ways.”
“Rising, by Canadian climber and guide Sharon Wood, captures a major breakthrough for women in high-stakes mountaineering. Her exploration not only of the climb itself but also of relationships, her passion for the mountains, and her own uncertainties make Rising an inspiring read for anyone pursuing their own sense of place on this lumpy planet.”
Tom Hornbein, author of Everest, the West Ridge
“…a fiercely and beautifully honest telling of one of Canada’s most important mountain stories by one of our most important mountain voices. Sharon reminds us of the way that Everest should be climbed, and helps us understand the many ways that a mountain can change a life.”
Geoff Powter, Former Editor, Canadian Alpine Journal, and author of Strange and Dangerous Dreams