We summitted Mt Everest at 6:10am on the 20th May 2012 with Alpine Ascents International and I became both the youngest British female to summit Mt Everest, and the youngest British female to complete the Seven Summits, aged 19. My dad and I are now one of the few father-daughter teams to have completed the Seven Summits!
We climbed Mt Everest for the Vitiligo Society, and managed to raise £57,000 for them. A really huge thank you to everyone who contributed and made this possible; it's made such a difference to the charity who supported my mum when she found out she had the condition in her early 20s.
This climb took a total of two months and a year's worth of training before we even set off, it also became a family event with my mum and sister joined us in walking the two weeks up to Base Camp at 5,300m. It was an incredible experience and we had a wonderful team along with the experienced guides Garrett Madison, Eric Murphy, Lakpa Rita Sherpa and Jose Luis Peralvo, who quickly become our steadfast friends and whom we couldn't have done it without. However, I would never go back to climb it again after the summit day we experienced - I documented it on my blog along with photos if you're interested.
It's extremely difficult to write a very short summary of such a long trip, and such a complicated mixture of experiences, so I think it's probably easier to just go through the basic movements. (If you want to hear more please get in touch about public speaking opportunities!) So, to climb to any significant altitude acclimatizing is paramount. If someone were to be simply dropped on the roof of the world they would be unconscious and then dead within a couple of minutes due to the severe lack of oxygen; even at Base Camp oxygen levels are at only 50%. The tried and tested method to acclimatize is to do three "rotations" up above Base Camp. The first rotation takes you to Camp One, about 5,800m, for one night and Camp Two, at 6,400m, for two nights before descending again. The next rotation takes you all the way up to Camp Two for 5 nights, touching Camp 3, at 7,300m, during one of the days before descending again. After this rotation we dropped down below Base Camp by about 1,000m to let our bodies recovery and gain back strength for about 5 days. Finally the third rotation takes you all the way to the summit, at 8,848m.
The main obstacles in between Base Camp at the summit can be summarised as the Khumbu Ice Fall, the Lhotse Face, the Yellow Band, the Geneva Spur, and the Summit Push. These are of course coupled with the effects of as little as 33% of the oxygen you would be used to at sea level... The Khumbu Ice Fall is in my opinion the most exciting part of climbing Everest: A constantly changing, technical, massive ice field full of gaping crevasses and ice towers and blocks as big as houses. Crossing ladders over these crevasses definitely took some getting used to, but as we had to go through this ice fall every time we went above Base Camp we became extremely used to and efficient at it by the end of the trip.
It was a very long expedition, and you definitely need all the fitness and experience you can get before undertaking this climb - it's a marathon not a sprint, and inexperienced climbers can be dangerous. However, all in all, I had a wonderful time. I met brilliant people, lived in a spectacular place for two whole months and was able to forget about everything and just climb in a beautiful, challenging environment.
Here are two newspaper articles that also tell the tale: