Skip to main content

Blum, Arlene (1945—)

Blum, Arlene (1945—)

American mountaineer, author, and chemist. Born in 1945; raised in Chicago, Illinois; daughter of a physician and a violinist; graduated from Reed College, Portland, Oregon, and University of California, Berkeley; children: one daughter.

Organized and led the first all-women's expedition to the summit of Mount Denali, Alaska (1970); organized and led the first all-female expedition to the summit of Annapurna I in the Himalayas (1978); hiked entire length of the Great Himalaya Range; did scientific research that led to the ban of a carcinogenic chemical from use in American clothing; taught at Stanford University, Wellesley College, and University of California, Berkeley; awarded Gold Medal from the Society of Women Geographers.

Born at the end of World War II, Arlene Blum was raised in Chicago by grandparents after her parents' divorce. In high school, she earned high marks in advanced science and math classes, and attended Reed College with a desire to be a chemist. "I knew 'girls weren't supposed to be chemists,'" she later said, "And it's always sort of nice to do things you're not supposed to do." This outlook would drive her to some of her greatest achievements.

Blum began climbing mountains in college, later combining this avocation with her career as a chemist. After participating in expeditions to Mexico and the Andes, she applied to join an expedition to Afghanistan but was denied because she was a woman. It was believed then that women could not handle the highest elevations and would adversely affect the morale of all-male teams. After again being excluded from an expedition going to Alaska's Mount Denali, she organized her own all-women's team. In July 1970, they made history when they stood at summit. In 1976, she was part of the American bicentennial ascent of Mount Everest.

In 1978, Blum again proved women had the stamina to succeed in this sport when she led an all-female assault on the hazardous Annapurna I, the tenth-highest mountain in the world. The American Women's Himalayan Expedition

raised the $80,000 needed in part by selling tshirts bearing the slogan, "A Woman's Place Is On Top … Annapurna." Two of the team's climbers reached the summit along with two Sherpas, but tragically, two other team members died on the mountainside. Blum wrote a book about the experience that detailed logistical problems, personality conflicts among the team, and her own struggles with the demands of leadership. The book was re-published in 1998 on the 20th anniversary of the feat.

In addition to her notable accomplishments in chemistry and her teaching experience, Blum has led and participated in dozens of climbs and treks after Annapurna, sometimes accompanied by her daughter. She has contributed articles and photographs to such distinguished publications as National Geographic. She also presented motivational lectures and leadership training seminars across the United States and Nepal.

sources:

Blum, Arlene. Annapurna: A Woman's Place. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books, 1980.

Johnson, Anne Janette. Great Women In Sports. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1998, p. 45.

Jacquie Maurice , Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Blum, Arlene (1945—)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Blum, Arlene (1945—)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 20, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blum-arlene-1945

"Blum, Arlene (1945—)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blum-arlene-1945

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.