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Top of the world: Boise State alum seeks to climb highest peaks on every continent

Andrea Dorantes posing on summit with Mexican flag
In December, when Dorantes climbs Mt. Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica, she will ski to the South Pole in the same expedition. The Seven Summits challenge is evolving, she said, to include skiing both poles, an adventure known as the Explorer’s Grand Slam. If she is successful, she will be the first Mexican to complete the feat.

One simple, spur-of-the-moment internet search was enough to change the life of Andrea Dorantes (BBA, finance, 2019). A native of León, Mexico, she had come to the U.S. to play soccer at an NCAA Division II school in Illinois. After two years, she yearned for something different.

“I thought ‘if I’m in the U.S., I want the American experience,’” Dorantes said. “I grew up in a warm place, but we took vacations to where there was snow. I wanted to be where you could see big football games and basketball games.”

The search? “Schools near ski resorts.” Dorantes quickly found Boise State, with Bogus Basin just a few miles north. She also liked Boise State’s iconic blue football field, something people recognize far beyond Idaho.

Little did she know, that search and her move to Boise would eventually take her to the top of the world, seeking a physical challenge few have completed.

Dorantes is seeking to become the youngest Latin American to scale the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each continent. So far, she has completed four – Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Aconcagua in Argentina, Denali in Alaska and Mt. Kosciusko in Australia. She will climb Mt. Vinson in Antarctica in December and will eventually finish her quest with the world’s highest, Mt. Everest.

A good beginning

During her orientation at Boise State, Dorantes visited the Recreation Center, where she learned about the Outdoor Program, meeting then-program director Rodo Leone, who is from Argentina. She hadn’t done much as far as outdoor activities, other than skiing and some camping. But after discussing the idea with other students who spoke Spanish, she applied to become a trip leader.

“One of the best decisions of my life,” said Dorantes, who graduated in 2019 with a finance degree.

“At first, Andy was quiet and introverted, but she really adapted. I always wanted our students to use [the Outdoor Program] to find their place, and Andy did,” Leone said. “She developed a lot of resilience, a lot of confidence. I think because of that, she has become so good at handling the unknown.”

Sunrise summit

It wasn’t until 2020 that Dorantes ot into mountaineering, joining friends in Mexico to climb the country’s highest peak, Pico de Orazaba (18,491 feet). May as well go headfirst if you’re going to do it, right?

“I had no idea there were peaks that tall in Mexico, but it was after COVID had hit and I didn’t have much to do,” Dorantes said. “Once I did it, it just clicked, like, ‘this is it.’ We summited at sunrise, it was just amazing. It was like ‘whoa.’ And when you get into it, you always want to find a taller one.”

As for how Dorantes got the idea to scale the Seven Summits, again, it goes back to Boise State.
While she was in school, she read the book, “Higher Love” by Kit DesLauriers, who was the first person to ski all Seven Summits. The book intrigued her, but when she read it again in 2021 while visiting Boise for ski season, she thought it was “just the coolest thing. I thought ‘maybe I should try to climb them,’” Dorantes said.

“The book had a line, I remember it was page 99, and it said ‘April 15, I decided to climb the Seven Summits.’ And I realized, I was reading it on April 15. I’m into numbers, and nine represents [completion]. It was meant to be.”

An ambitious goal

When Dorantes summited Aconagua in Leone’s home country, she texted him a photo and a message: “This is for you.”

“With more Andreas, the world would be perfect,” Leone said. “She embraces the culture everywhere she goes and connects with all kinds of people. In Boise, I knew she would do great things.”

As part of her goal, Dorantes has stepped out of her comfort zone and raised funds (it will take approximately $400,000 to complete all seven climbs), though it also has reinforced her desire. She found backing from one of Mexico’s largest shoe companies, Flexi, and started a GoFundMe.
“I never thought it was something I’d do, but I love it and I’m so excited for the rest,” Dorantes said. “Being in parts of the world you’ve never seen, being aware of what it’s like somewhere else, that’s pretty amazing.”

By Dave Southorn

Follow Dorantes on her adventures
Instagram: @AndyDorantesMX

The tallest peaks on all seven continents.
Australia – Mt. Kosciusko (7,310 feet)*
Antarctica – Mt. Vinson (16,050 feet)
Europe (Russia) – Mt. Elbrus (18,510 feet)
Africa (Tanzania) – Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet)*
North America (Alaska) – Denali (20,322 feet)*
South America (Argentina) – Aconcagua (22,838 feet)*
Asia (Nepal) – Mt. Everest (29,032 feet)
*-completed as of November 2022

January, 2023 update

Dorantes recently shared the news that she has become the first Mexican to reach the South Pole. Her adventures continue and Boise State wishes her well.