Sunny's Adventure Biography
Originally from Germany, Sunny grew up a book-loving couch potato. She spent her teens and early twenties as an academically-inclined and mostly physically inactive city girl. Outdoor adventure was always something she loved reading about - but something that other people did, not her. Yet when the chance presented itself during her sophomore year of college, Sunny went backpacking for the first time and was hooked. Over the next several years she gradually, stubbornly, transformed into an outdoor woman.
Once out of school Sunny spent several years chasing adventure as a passionate weekend warrior - first as a finance professional and later as a strategy consultant. Every Friday, Sunny would head out into the mountains or desert to climb, run, ski or hike that next big mountain but soon realized that the lifestyle was both exhausting and expensive to sustain; so she decided to make a change.
At the end of 2015 Sunny quit her business job, gave up her apartment and moved into a 2002 Chevy Astro Van to run, climb, and play in the outdoors wherever the road might take her. She’s since set speed records across the great mountain ranges of the world (including records on 22,838ft Aconcagua and around Annapurna) and even won a 100 mile mountain trail race at home in the Colorado Rockies.
Today she’s making a living as a professional adventure photographer, expedition leader and sponsored athlete. She is also the founder and lead guide at Aurora Women’s Expeditions, a Boulder-based expedition business with the objective of introducing more women to the high altitude arena. You can find out more at www.awexpeditions.org.
On The Road, Anywhere
High-altitude mountaineering, mountain running, and adventure climbing
Aconcagua is 22,838ft tall and one of the Seven Summits. In 2018, I became the first woman to circumnavigate and summit the mountain in a single push completing the so-called 360 route in just under 48 hours of continuous effort. Aconcagua gets tackled by thousands of summit hopefuls each climbing season but to date there are only about half a dozen people in the world (male or female) who’ve managed to complete the 360 in a single push.
The Hayduke Trail
I’m not much of a thru hiker but I am madly in love with the desert and I find great joy in long and difficult endurance pursuits- which is why I decided to tackle the 815-mile Hayduke Trail in Utah as my first big hike. I ended up spending 32 days on trail (or rather: on the route - much of the Hayduke is off-trail!) covering some 685 miles on foot. During some stretches I didn’t see another human being for three or four days in a row.
It’s hard for me to decide if I’m a runner or a mountaineer. I often feel like I’m not fast enough to qualify as a runner, and I don’t pursue difficult-enough (on the technical spectrum) objectives to really call myself a mountaineer. But throw the two together - altitude and running - and you’re in my world. Which is probably the reason that I clutched the win at the 2018 Ouray 100, a hundred mile footrace with more than 83,000ft of vertical change… and at an average elevation of almost 11,000ft.
I have spent plenty of time in Nepal (and set the women’s speed record around Annapurna, amongst other things), but I keep going back there - there are just too many trails to run, mountains to climb, and the people are wonderful. In the fall of 2019 I’m hoping to finish a new route on rarely climbed 20,900ft Kusum Kangru - a route that I started in 2016 but didn’t manage to complete.
As I said before, running at altitude is my specialty: the higher and more rugged, the better. That’s why I’m excited to give the prestigious Nolan’s 14 a try - a link up of fourteen 14,000 peaks in Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks Range. The official time limit is 65 hours, but I’m hoping to do it a lot faster!
I always enjoy trying out new things and getting to know new environments. My next big objective in that direction is to learn polar skills and pursue a speed mission or two in the extreme cold - Norway, Alaska and Antarctica are all on the horizon.
Sunny's Favorite Climbing Meals
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Sunny's meal preparation hacks
As far as food hacks go, it's all about the extra "add-ins." I often add olive oil for extra calories.