New Heights

At 50, Mary Ruth Houston decided it was time to start climbing mountains

Published in 2021 Florida Super Lawyers magazine

By Mary Ruth Houston on June 24, 2021


It was 2010 and I had rounded the 16th floor of my office staircase, accompanied by a backpack filled with old law books and water bottles. I had 12 months to get ready. My husband had asked how I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday, and I blurted out: climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Mind you, we hadn’t slept in a tent since college—a trip that ended ignominiously when our poorly erected tent started to collapse. 

That trip cemented an avocation for the next 10—I hope more—years. It’s hard to find that activity which allows you to venture into a realm of mindfulness. When the placement of each boot on a snowy incline occupies your brain, you let go of nagging concerns about the response to a request for admissions. The euphoric experience of reaching a mountain summit makes those 15-mile hikes in 95-degree, mosquito-laden Florida jungles and the drudgery of climbing office stairs all worth it. We’ve climbed in Russia, Ecuador and India. We’ve hiked the Inca Trail, descended and ascended the Grand Canyon, walked Scotland’s 65-mile Speyside Way, trekked to Everest base camp; and adventured in Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and Croatia. COVID-19 put a halt to our activities last year, but we have hopes of soon climbing our first Colorado 14er. 

Growing up, I never thought I’d be a lawyer. Then I never thought I’d turn into a climber. There’s a great big world out there, and sometimes the best thing attorneys can do is venture out of our offices and experience it.

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