Agnes Irwin Student Summits 20,000-Foot Mountain
ROSEMONT, PA. – This summer, Lauren Fox, a Narberth resident and rising senior at The Agnes Irwin School, traveled to La Paz, Bolivia to achieve one of her personal goals – climbing to the peak of Huayna Potosi, a 20,000-foot mountain that rises about 600 feet higher than Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. After training in mountain climbing, ice climbing and survival, Fox attained the summit of Huayna Potosi on June 17, becoming the youngest non-Bolivian female and second youngest overall female to summit the glacier-covered mountain, according to senior professional guides in Bolivia.
“We believe that Agnes Irwin has played an important role in Lauren’s development and desire to challenge new frontiers,” said Laurie Kilpatrick, Fox’s mother. “During her Special Studies Program (SSP) service project last March, Lauren traveled to Bolivia to do a dental research project in a remote Amazon village. During the first week, in addition to preparing lectures, posters and acquiring supplies, Lauren took extensive lessons in mountain climbing and survival. It was her goal was to return to Bolivia in June to climb the mountain.” (SSP is a two-week experiential learning program unique to Agnes Irwin that offers sophomores and juniors a variety of domestic and international trips).
Accompanied by her older brother and a professional guide, Fox acclimatized and trained for five days in La Paz at 12,500 feet. Her father, William Fox, attributes her strength throughout the climb to physical training on both the track team and swim team at Agnes Irwin. “It’s pretty exciting that she was able to do it,” said Fox’s father, who attained the summit himself in 1969 and 1995. “One thing you definitely need for this type of venture is strength, and she’s a fighter. There were obstacles that Lauren and her brother encountered, like facing dehydration when the tubes in their camel bags froze due to the high altitude. But she kept going.”
On June 16, Fox reached 18,000 feet and slept in a tent on the glacier. Gearing up at 2 a.m. the following day, Fox and her brother attained the summit of Huayna Potosi.
Fox, who is looking forward to heading back to South America to participate in health-related community service projects, plans on pursuing a career in medicine after graduating from The Agnes Irwin School.