By: Blonde One

Mollie Hughes is the youngest woman in the world to climb Mount Everest from the South and North sides and she is truly incredible! I had the pleasure of listening to her talking at a DofE celebration evening a few years ago where she inspired the teenage audience with her tales of her first ascent at the age of 21. Her talk then was to young people who lived and went to school in her hometown of Paignton so they got a real sense of this type of adventure being actually achievable.

When I got the chance to listen to her again at the Women in Adventure expo I didn’t hesitate. This time she told her story of climbing Everest from the windier and colder North side.

I was in total awe of how someone so young could achieve such amazing things. She told of overcoming her fear of heights as she crossed crevasse ladders hundreds of times and of the difficult task of controlling her fear as she entered the 8000m ‘death zone’. I was fascinated to hear that at this altitude temperatures ranged from +20°C during the day to -20°C at night, and amused to find that listening to Britney Spears at night helped to occupy her! She confirmed what I knew already that a mountain descent is harder than the ascent, but I was intrigued to hear that she had no thoughts of success or failure during the toughest times. She only ever focussed on ‘that moment’.

I could have listened to her for hours but unfortunately, her talk ended after a speedy half an hour. She finished with a quote from Junko Tabei, a Japanese mountaineer who, in 1975, was the first woman to reach the summit of Everest: “Technique and ability alone do not get you to the top; it’s the willpower that is the most important. This willpower you cannot buy with money or be given by others it rises from your heart.”

Since it’s only a few months since her ascent she’s still at the ‘never again’ stage but I have a feeling that she’ll be doing something incredible before long! I look forward to hearing about her adventures and continuing to use her as a truly inspirational role model for the young ladies that I teach.