Toronto’s Most Inspirational Women of 2022- Liliya Ianovskaia

The Adventurer | Liliya Ianovskaia

It’s hard to imagine climbing the tallest mountains in the world at any age, but Liliya Ianovskaia isn’t like most people. At age 50, she picked up climbing and mountaineering, and quickly made her way up some of the largest summits in the world, including Mount Everest in Nepal. And this year, at age 62, she became the old woman in the world to summit the second tallest mountain in the world, K2 in Pakistan — also known as one of the most dangerous and difficult treks. She also became the first Canadian woman to summit the mountain.

by Olya Ianovskaia, daughter

My mother has this rare ability to reinvent herself, an insatiable love of life and drive to keep exploring, discovering and pushing the limits of what she thought was possible. She stumbled into mountaineering at the age of 50, after the birth of her third grandchild, and by 62 she not only scaled Everest, but also became the world’s oldest woman to summit K2 just two months later. In her mountaineering expeditions, she spends many nights sheltered from the elements by a tiny tent, lost in a vast, lifeless expanse of snow and ice. Acutely aware of her own mortality and insignificance in the face of the infinite, it’s in those moments that she feels truly alive and present. She carries that life-affirming charge back from the mountains with her. I see it in the way she refuses to stay still, and is constantly exploring, wanting to take everything she can from life. She lives fully, in every sense of the word. Her drive is contagious. Her hunger for life is inspiring. I recognize glimpses of this same drive in myself and my sisters, and I definitely see it in my daughter Viliya and my niece Julia. I could not be more proud of my mother, and I could not be more grateful to have such a strong, uncompromising role model for my own daughter.

See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2022 here. 

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