Mollie Hughes, a 26 year-old British climber has announced her plan to again climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak (8848m). If her attempt this May is successful, the Edinburgh-based and Devon-born climber will become the youngest Briton, the youngest European woman and the first English woman to scale the peak from both the north and south sides.
If successful, Hughes, who in 2012 summited Mount Everest from its south side, would be 28 years younger than Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), who in 2016 and at the age of 54 became the first British woman to achieve ascents from both the north and south. In 1975, Junko Tabei (Japan) became the first female climber to summit the mountain that in 1953 was first officially climbed by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
Hughes, who started climbing at secondary school and at the age of 17 summited Mount Kenya (Africa’s second highest peak), will be joined on her latest expedition by sherpas and the experienced climber, Jon Gupta of Mountain Expeditions. Tiso, the outdoor adventure specialist where Hughes is an employee and which staged a successful expedition to Mount Everest in 2000, is the main supporter of Hughes latest expedition during which she also hopes to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
After leaving the UK in early April, the climbers will acclimatize. They will be on the mountain for approximately six weeks during which Hughes anticipates the final summit push will take 6-7 days. If all goes to plan, Hughes aims to stand atop Mount Everest on 19 May, elated and braving temperatures as low as minus 40C. She will then start the tricky descent, returning to base camp by 22 May and the UK in early June.
Hughes, from Torbay in Devon was first inspired to climb Mount Everest when as part of her sports psychology degree at UWE Bristol she interviewed seven Everest summiteers and learned of their different psychological experiences on the mountain. She now also has first-hand experience of the fears and challenges presented by Everest.
While many climbers choose to ascend from the south, the north route from a base camp in Tibet, China is considered to expose the mountaineers to colder and windier conditions. This route includes an arduous and psychologically testing final day of ascent over three prominent rocky steps on the northeast ridge. All negotiated at an altitude of over 8,500 metres (28,000ft) in the so-called ‘death zone.’
In addition to support from Tiso Group, Hughes is also receiving help from the philanthropist Kae Tinto Murray, from Osprey Backpacks and the engineering firm ch2m. Mollie Hughes, Everest 2017 expedition also hopes to raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK.