With just over a month to go until our very first Liaison Lunch, we caught up with our speaker, Mollie Hughes, the amazing young women who became one of the youngest British climbers to summit Mount Everest at the young age of 21.
What got you started in mountaineering?
When I was 17 I went on a school expedition to Kenya. On the trip we went on Safari, we did some charity work and at the end had the chance to climb Mount Kenya. It took four or five long days of walking uphill. When we finally reached the summit and we were standing above the clouds I felt amazing. I was hooked. And I knew mountaineering was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. Throughout the rest of school and university I would save up as much money as I could in the term time and spend it all on an expedition over the summer. I travelled to the Himalayas, the Andes of South America, the Atlas Mountains of North Africa, back to East Africa and closer to home on the Alps and the mountains of the UK.
Do you feel it appeals to both men and women?
There is no doubt that mountaineering is a male dominated sport. It is all about having an ability to suffer, to keep going when you are tired, cold and scared. Maybe things that traditionally appealed to more men than women. But women’s participation is definitely on the rise and every time I go on an expedition I seem to be joined by more and more women. It is a great thing, women can get so much out of climbing mountains.
What motivates you to go mountaineering?
It makes me feel alive. Being in harsh, demanding environments but coping with it, overcoming it and achieving your objective is an amazing feeling. But also the views…. The higher you climb the more incredible the views become. Watching the sunrise over the whole world on the summit day of Everest was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
What has been the toughest challenge when mountaineering?
In 2012 I joined an expedition team to summit Mount Everest. The expedition was two months long with the first 5 weeks yo yo ‘ing up and down the mountain to attempt to acclimatise to the extreme altitude. This expedition pushed me mentally and physically further than I had ever been pushed before. We suffered everyday for two months. But finally on the 19th May we reached the summit. I was 21 years old and became one of the youngest British climbers to ever summit Everest.
Would you recommend others to try?
Absolutely! Mountaineering has given me so much. It pushes your comfort zones and outside of your comfort zone is the only place you can really learn and grow. Plus, the views from the summit are well worth the challenge of getting there!
Mollie will be speaking on Thursday 15th September at our first Liaison Lunch. For more info on our Liaison Lunches click here or to book a place email Ayesha on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0131 556 4270.