Behind every great National Geographic story is a great storyteller.
Come hear the fantastic experiences of these explorers and scientists, directly from those who experienced them! Find out how Mireya Mayor, dubbed the “female Indiana Jones,” is inspiring young girls interested in science and nature, why Zeb Hogan is on a quest for the world’s monster fish, and how Hilaree O’Neill lead a team of explorers through treacherous conditions to make some incredible discoveries.
These speakers will share stories, images, and film clips to immerse you in their adventures. You’ll get to hear all about the important work they’re doing in nature and science, plus get the gritty, hilarious, and sometimes difficult details of what doing this work really entails. Come along for the highs of escaping charging gorillas and discovering new species and the lows of logistical failures and personality clashes, all in the service of making discoveries, advancing science, and accomplishing dreams.
This program is presented in association with National Geographic Live, bringing the National Geographic experience to global audiences, while celebrating the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change our world.
Point of No Return: Hilaree O'Neill
Mountaineer & Expedition Leader
Being tasked to lead a five-person team of National Geographic explorers, photographers, and filmmakers on a 300-plus mile journey overland, across tiger reserves, into plunging gorges, and through the remotest cultural areas is hard enough. Add strong personalities and tough descisions to the mix and the task almost seems impossible — but not for Hilaree O'Neill.
Hear Her Story
In an attempt to discover Southeast Asia's highest point, Hilaree and her team undertook a harrowing adventure that included dwindling food supplies, hypothermia, hellish jungle slogs and more that pushed them to the breaking point both physically and mentally, and threatened to rip the team apart. Hear, first-hand, the story of how this female expedition leader balanced strong personalities and made tough decisions that helped guide her team to tackle the seemingly insurmountable and accomplish their dreams.
How It All Began
When you develop a passion at age three, it is easy to let that passion shape your future. Skiing down the Cascade Mountains of Washington State throughout her childhood led to a life surrounded by mountains.
Shortly after graduating from Colorado College, Hilaree expanded her list of conquered mountains to include some of the best in France, India, Lebanon, Canada, and even the volcanoes in the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.
Her mountain adventures led Outside Magazine to name Hilaree one of the most adventurous women in the world of sports. Thus kicking off the amazing feats she would tackle, the legacy she would create, and the inspiration she would give others.
As Hilaree’s skiing skills quickly reached the next level — ski mountaineering — her adventures grew larger and more frequent.
1996 – European Women’s Extreme Skiing Champion, Chamonix, France
2005 – Climbed the 8,000-meter peak Cho Oyu in Tibet completing the second female oxygenless ski descent
2006 – Climbed and skied multiple peaks throughout Bolivia
2007 – Ski exploration in Prince William Sound, Alaska
2008 – Attempted to climb and ski Gasherbrum II in Pakistan
2010 – Ski exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
2012 – First woman to climb consecutive 8,000 meter peaks in a single day (Everest and Lhotse)
2014 – Led a team of alpinists to attempt a first ascent on a remote peak in northern Myanmar using a National Geographic Explorer’s Grant
2015 – "Down to Nothing," a film of her journey through Myanmar, won Best Cinematography at Telluride’s Mountainfilm festival
2015 – Attempted Makalu, a Himalayan giant. Named one of the “Most Badass Adventures of 2015” by Outside Magazine
She forged her way into the record books for high-altitude innovation and prowess and still exercises her love for skiing, climbing, and mind-blowing adventure as she continues her travels around the globe.