The Most Famous American Female Hiker?

Who is the most famous American female hiker of all time? Do you know where I can find collectibles / memorabilia? Signed photos or books or pictures?


Ruth Dyar Mendenhall

ANSWER: Thanks for your question, Ray. This is a tricky one, because there are so many accomplished American women climbers and mountaineers.

  • Lynn Hill – climber. When I was the Granite Frontiers Exhibit about the history of climbing in Yosemite, Lynn Hill was one of the most prominent climbers featured. Lynn became famous in the 1980s when she lived at Camp 4 in Yosemite Valley and became the first person to free climb (yes without any ropes!) The Nose of El Capitan! Quite impressive!
  • Beth Rodden – climber. Beth is an outstanding rock climber, and was the first woman to free climb 2 routes on El Capitan in Yosemite. She’s a young woman – only 29 years old – and she lives in Yosemite.
  • Ruth Dyar Mendenhall – mountaineer. Ruth was a woman who broke the gender barriers and became an outstanding female mountain climber in the 1930s. She climbed California’s Sierra Nevadas, all while raising 2 daughters. There is an excellent book that is a compilation of letters that document her climbing career.
  • Arlene Blum: Annapurna

  • Arlene Blum – mountaineer. Arlene is an American woman who has accomplished many firsts, and wrote books about it! In 1978 Arlene led a group of women to Annapurna I in the Himalayas, achieving the first ascent of the world’s 10th largest mountain. She was the first American woman to attempt to climb Mt. Everest and trekked the entire length of the European Alps with her baby daughter.

    Arlene has a website where she sells t-shirts and autographed copies of her books: Annapurna: A Woman’s Place and Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life Sales of her t-shirts that say “Annapurna: A Woman’s Place is On Top” raised $80k for the 1978 climbing expedition, and I’m sure you could ask her to autograph a copy of the t-shirt if you order it from her website.

Happy trails!
Hiking Lady

Do you have a question for the Hiking Lady?


  1. Mathura A. says:

    I am trying to figure out Who is the most famous female hiker in world? and why?
    please help me.

    Thank you,

  2. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Rhae, I don’t know who you are referring to but perhaps someone else has a guess and can post a comment!

  3. Rhae Eaton says:

    I am trying to remember the name of the woman who had poor health and then in her 60s started exercising and eating healthy and soon hiked mountains. I think one was Mt. Baker.


  4. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Stan,
    It sure sounds like Ruth Dyar Mendenhall could have been the woman you helped in the garden! Ruth began climbing in the 1930s, so the time frame sounds right. Plus she did live in Los Angeles, and her father-in-law was the somewhat well known editor of The Van Nuys News, predecessor to today’s Daily News of Los Angeles. So it isn’t surprising that she lived in Sherman Oaks (perhaps her husbands family lived nearby as well). Most of her climbing was done in California’s Sierra Nevadas.
    Did she ever share climbing stories with you?
    Good look on the memoir!

  5. stan cardinet says:

    I am writing a memoir about growing up in Los Angeles during the 1940’s. For a time we lived on Contour Drive in Sherman Oaks. I spent considerable time as a boy with
    the woman who lived across the street, helping her in her
    garden. She was a known mountain climber. I do not remember her name. From what I have told you, was the woman Ruth Dyer Mendenhall?

    Please help me if you can.

    Thank you, Stan Cardinet

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