How Alison Levine Reached the Summit of Everest and Business

Chronicling an Inspirational Leader's Ascent

Into The Void: Alison Levine drags her sled toward the South Pole.
Erick Phillips, IceTrek
Into The Void: Alison Levine drags her sled toward the South Pole.

By Curt Schleier

Published January 24, 2014, issue of January 31, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Alison Levine is scheduled to speak to the New York chapter of 85 Broads, a national women’s networking group. That is, she will speak if she can get to the meeting room.

Levine and her retinue — four representatives of her publisher and a reporter — are in the lobby of the McGraw-Hill Building trying to make it past security. Levine’s topic is the leadership lessons she learned climbing to the tops of the highest mountains on each continent and skiing to both the North and South Pole.

Her accomplishment is called the Adventure Grand Slam and only about 40 people have ever done it. It is arduous and demanding, yet, at the moment, scaling Everest seems to pale in comparison to getting to the 50th floor of 1221 Avenue of the Americas.

“The security is tighter here,” she conceded with a smile.

Levine, 47, doesn’t look like a mountain climber, at least if your idea of a mountain climber is someone brawny and capable of jumping deep crevasses in a single bound.

“I hear that a lot,” Levine admits. She is slight — 5 feet 4 inches tall, a little over 100 pounds. “What’s hard about that is you have to carry the same amount of gear as a guy 6’4” and 280 pounds whose legs are longer.”

She overcomes her physical limitations by preparation in a real world environment. “Training for hours on a StairMaster indoors is incredibly helpful if you’re planning to, oh, I don’t know, climb a lot of stairs.”

That is one of many nuggets of wisdom culled from her new book, “On the Edge: The Art of High Impact Leadership.” Levine has successfully created a cottage industry by applying the knowledge she acquired in extreme sports to what she calls “today’s extreme business environment.”

In addition to consulting for and speaking to executives of Fortune 500 companies, she serves as adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy and works with leadership programs at West Point and Duke University.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.