Shine: What She Actually Does, Meet Tonya Clement
Tonya Clement may be a little lady at just over five feet, 3 inches tall, but there’s nothing small about the amount of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement this 48-year-old brings to life. Whether it’s writing a book about post-Everest married life, climbing mountains for peace or to save mountain gorillas, or running Colorado’s most successful dermatology clinic, she meets and exceeds her goals. And she usually does so either in or around mountains. We recently caught up with Tonya to find out what she has been up to since stepping down from her position as Sales Director of Stonewear Designs. Enjoy this video interview and accompanying article on Tonya.
The interview…“One mountain begets another mountain begets another mountain,” says Tonya Clement of her healthy obsession with all things rock, ice, and snow. In 2000, she had a miserable trip up Mount Rainier (14,411 feet) in Washington, but by the next day she says, she could only think about climbing more mountains. And so it was inevitable that she would eventually end up in the Himalayas.
“The first time I saw Ama Dablam, I was fixated on it and ended up going back the next year to climb it,” Clement says. “Then from Ama Dablam I could see Everest.” So, with a few jaunts up peaks in Kenya, Peru, and France, she ended up climbing Everest. And she did all this in her late 30s and 40s.
“I thought I was getting into it late in the game, but my body adapted very well to altitude,” she says. “I sleep well, I eat well, and I’m a woman. We carry our fat better and so have good endurance.”
Clement’s love of the outdoors played well with her career choices. She worked in the outdoor industry for years, including a nine-year stint as the Director of Sales for Stonewear Designs. She only recently moved on this past December 2011.
“The decision to leave was very difficult,” she says. “But I needed a new challenge, and it was time for new people to take Stonewear on.” Clement wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do after she left, but an opportunity arose to run one of Colorado’s most successful dermatology clinics—Dermatology Specialists of Boulder (http://www.dsboulder.com/).
“I miss the excitement of the outdoor industry, but I have this whole new challenge now that is equally as wonderful,” Clement says. She also welcomes the opportunity to ascend more local rock formations, strengthen her rock climbing techniques, and do shorter mountaineering trips.
“I think this is going to be a really positive move because I’ll focus more on rock climbing,” she says, “I wanted to climb big mountains while I was young. But I see women rock climbing into their 60s and 70s. I hope to do it into my 80s.”
In addition to becoming a better rock climber, she’s currently working on a book with her husband, Brad Clement, and also helping him promote his new project, The Lost Souls of the Congo.
“We have a passionate drive to save the Mountain Gorillas, of which there are less than 800 in the world,” Clement explains. The couple plans to climb some peaks in the region’s stunning Rwenzori Mountains (aka the Mountains of the Moon) and then make a video to raise funds. To read more about the project, visit their Kickstarter site.
On May 18, 2006, Tonya became the 20th woman from the United States to climb Mt. Everest and the fifth of just nine American women to reach the top by the North Ridge. To read more about her ascent, visit The Everest Peace Project.
Article by Lizzy Scully
Photos by Tonya & Brad Clement
Video by Brad Clement