On Tuesday 16th May 2017, at 4:45am, in temperatures of minus 35°C, Mollie Hughes successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest from the North side.
This was Mollie’s second time standing on top of the world having already summited the South side of Everest in 2012. Achieving this feat at the age of 26 made her the youngest woman in the world and the first English woman to successfully summit from both the north and south sides of the world’s highest mountain.
Mount Everest 2012 Expedition
Mollie’s 2012 Mount Everest expedition was inspired by her university dissertation project. Mollie studied Psychology and Sports Biology at the University of the West of England, Bristol. For her final year project she decided to investigate the psychological experience of climbing Mount Everest, interviewing seven male climbers who had all reached the summit. Mollie explored their motivation, their ability to control fear, the psychological pressures they faced and their experience of reaching the summit.
From the first interview Mollie was hooked, she was quickly inspired to attempt her own Mount Everest expedition. Mollie spent the next 12 months sponsorship hunting, increasing her mountaineering experience and undergoing serious physical training. At the beginning of April 2012 Mollie left the UK for her own attempt to summit Mount Everest, aged just 21 years old.
Mollie’s 2012 expedition was from the South side of the mountain via Nepal. Mollie climbed through the notorious Khumbu Icefall, the Western Cwn, scaled the Lhotse Face, camped at 7,900m on the South Col and after two incredibly challenging months reached the summit at 8am on the 19th May 2012. Mollie was accompanied by her friend and Sherpa guide Lhakpa Wongchu Sherpa who is from Pangboche in the Solukhumbu.
Mount Everest 2017 Expedition
In 2017 Mollie set off to climb Mount Everest for the second time. But this expedition was from the colder, windier and more technical Northern Route. Accompanied again by Sherpa Lhakpa Wongchu as well as Mollie’s friend and British mountain guide Jon Gupta and Lila Tamang.
This small team spent six weeks acclimatising on the slopes of Mount Everest, gaining altitude on each rotation, stashing kit high on the mountain and getting prepared for their summit attempt.
A small weather window appeared during the middle of May, when winds on the summit would die down just enough for them to reach top and get back down again. Mollie and her team headed up the mountain and after a short stop of at camp 3, located at 8,300m above sea level, they set off on their summit attempt at 8pm on the 15th May.
Following the North-East ridge, over the challenging 1st, 2nd and 3rd step, around the summit pyramid and onto the highest point on earth at 4:45am on the 16th May 2017. Mollie became the first English woman to summit Everest from both the North and South sides as well as the youngest woman ever to achieve this at the age of 26.