Women’s Day | The Peruvian who conquered the seven highest peaks in the world and how Selena Gomez will play her in the cinema | Silvia Vasquez-Lavado | mountaineer | Summit 7 | Mount Everest | Autobiography | EC Stories | ARE

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How many heights do we reach in life? Which ones do we really want to conquer and which others are painfully imposed on us? In the extraordinary life of the limeña Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (47), at the moment there are six. In some, he literally faced blizzards; and in the worst, to the most heartbreaking violence. Also to hopeful challenges. In all, yes, he overcame the fear. She carries in her backpack three rudiments that have not let her down on the steepest slopes: perseverance, a great sense of humor and a will of titanium.

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Thus, she is the first homosexual woman to have dominated the seven highest mountains in the world. This, after finding in the grandeur of nature the only way to mend his broken spirit from being outraged as a child and giving in to alcohol as an adult. Now sober from her since 2019, she has just published her autobiography and is also co-producer of a film that will be made about her in Hollywood. the megastar Selena Gomez He will interpret it.

Silvia Vásquez-Lavado is from Lima and is 47 years old.  She has lived in California for years and was recently "socket" the summit of the snow-capped Coropuna.  Right: actress and singer Selena Gomez.  (Photos: Elias Alfageme/Getty).
Silvia Vásquez-Lavado is from Lima and is 47 years old. She has lived in California for years and recently “captured” the summit of Mount Coropuna. Right: actress and singer Selena Gomez. (Photos: Elias Alfageme/Getty).

To this, we must add that HiddenLight, the producer of Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, recently included her in a mini-series of brave women which will be broadcast on diffusion on Apple TV in March. And he has big plans with her that he can’t give details about yet. But, as in the snow, we go slowly.

The first time I saw Silvia was in 2017, on the slopes of one of the Lúcumo hills, south of Lima. We took her there to represent her as one of the heroines of Somos that year, when she conquered Everest and its 8,840 m altitude. She already had her NGO, Courageous Girls, to support and empower violent girls. She tells us about the first mountain she had to overcome after she fell on her: having been sexually abused between the ages of 6 and 9 by a worker from her family.

We recently talked about her returning to Peru – she lives in California – to her parents in Monterrico, both with more gray hair, thanks to a pandemic. “When you interviewed me, I was very close to the seventh highest peak in the United States, Denali (6,194 meters above sea level). I got it later, in 2018, because I had a brain tumor detected literally by accident. A truck hit me while I was riding my bike and it showed during testing. It was mild, but recovery took 12 months. I ended up “attacking” Denali Peak, but at the cost of a terrible storm there and menstrual colic that nearly killed me“, Silvia vehemently recounts the feat with which the kangaroo entered the seven highest places on the planet. Together they achieve the mountain of life number 2 of hers.

“If you’ve been sober for three years, that means you were already sick when we first interviewed.”

She was an alcoholic, she just thought not. It wasn’t hypocrisy of me not to tell you. She was convinced it was something she could control.

“How can one be an elite mountaineer with this condition?

The problem started in my twenties, a product of trauma. I managed to tame him, but he would come back from time to time. I have never drunk while preparing for a mountain, never on top. But outside of those times… When I came down from Everest, I hit a four-day bomb. This momentum that takes you up, pulls you down when it gets dark. But then came Denali. The last. As soon as I got off, I said: that’s enough. If I didn’t take the mountain, I took the bottle. Lots of rehabilitation and meditation afterwards, and here I am. It’s a winding road, but one step at a time.

And that was, is, his personal mountain number 3.

Here at the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.  (Photo: personal file).
Here at the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. (Photo: personal file).
On Aconcagua, Argentina.  (Photo: personal file).
On Aconcagua, Argentina. (Photo: personal file).

time to write

The fourth would place her in front of the computer. After three months without drinking alcohol, she decided it was time to tell her story. A book could reach hurting girls, could motivate them to find the peace they need in nature. Also to those who have discovered themselves as lesbians and who are discriminated against. She could hold them accountable. So, in 2019, she landed a major literary agent and went for it. It has worked throughout the pandemic and has just been published in English and, so far, in eight languages. Is called In the Shadow of the Mountain: Memoirs of Courage (In the shadow of the mountain: memoirs of courage).

The book is about being abused as a child, fleeing to the United States after finishing my studies, and climbing Everest. Writing it required very powerful and hard inner work. I went to therapy and dug deep into my experience to tell it. I’m proud because it’s a vulnerable, open and honest story. The one I wish I had read to help me along the way“, it is said.

The autobiography will be published in Spanish by Planeta in the second half of this year. Meanwhile, it had already been chosen in February as one of the 10 books of the month by Time magazine, in addition to having received excellent literary reviews in various Anglo-Saxon media such as The New York Times.

This literary son had not just been born when Hollywood discovered the story. Then begins the ascent to the top of his peak 5: to play in the production of a film about his life.

Selena and me

I was in Lima in October 2019, because my father was still alive. I took the opportunity to present my proposal to the Lord of Miracles. My mother was devoted to her and to the Virgen del Carmen. I’m spiritual in general, but I put the ball everywhere [risas]. In the meantime, I was walking around when my literary agent called me and said, ‘They called us from Los Angeles, they read the book in advance and they say it’s a movie. They ask if you want the interpreter to be Peruvian. I was open to everyone, because my goal is to touch the hearts of people who were suffering. But yes, I expressed that I would like there to be Peruvian actors or for a part to be recorded in Peru. This is where the talks began.“, he details.

Then the names of interested actresses began to rain on him: Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria, the Spaniard Úrsula Corbero. But there was one who had a special life story that Silvia clicked with: the talented, mega-celebrity Selena Gomez.

Silvia poses for the Somos lens at her parents' home in Monterrico, during a recent visit to Lima.  (Photo: Elias Alfageme)
Silvia poses for the Somos lens at her parents’ home in Monterrico, during a recent visit to Lima. (Photo: Elias Alfageme)

I knew who he was, I listened to his songs, but who in life was going to imagine what he was going to do with me. I chose Selena because she is an artist who did not hesitate to be vulnerable when going through difficult personal situations. She doesn’t hesitate to talk about her bipolarity, her lupus, her troubles. It attracted me. We don’t know each other yet, due to crossed schedules, but our managers are in constant contact”.

Silvia is also one of the executive producers of the film, which is set to hit theaters next year.

Finally, the Peruvian has the cusp 6 in her sights, one that is as intimate as it is supportive. “I feel so privileged with all these opportunities that I would like to carry the message of being an ambassador for nature and the mountains for the rest of my life. Use various means to convince more people to do so. Host a TV show, for example, and show experiences like these that can help you. Healing is difficult and can be done. But it’s a thousand times easier if it’s done in community”. Pure natural inspiration. //

THE PERUVIAN SUMMIT

  • Silvia was in Peru in November. She was invited by the US Embassy to participate in a domestic violence prevention program. During this visit, she also agreed to climb Mount Coropuna, in Arequipa, with members of the Mujer Montaña organization.
  • “La Coropuna was the first Peruvian mountain I climbed in my life. And, curiously, the only one where he gave me soroche [risas]. It turns out that I did not have time to acclimatize and boom! First altitude headache in 15 years,” she said.
  • For the mountaineer, the Peruvian summits have nothing to envy to those of other latitudes. “They are beautiful and stimulating. I will definitely upload more.

WORKING WITH CAJAMARCA GIRLS

  • Courageous is the NGO that Silvia leads. Its mission is to help and empower girls and women who have experienced abuse.
  • “I started in 2014 taking girls to the foot of Everest. However, for the past five years I have also been working with around 20 young women from Cajabamba who were abused by a teacher. We have been following them ever since.”
  • More information about the entity and its projects on www.corageousgirls.com
Silvia's autobiography will be published in Spanish by Planeta in the second half of this year (Photo: Elías Alfageme)
Silvia’s autobiography will be published in Spanish by Planeta in the second half of this year (Photo: Elías Alfageme)

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