Top of the World: Young Brit Enters Everest Record Books

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Mollie Hughes, a 26 year‐old British climber has recently (Tuesday 16 May) reached the summit of Mount Everest (8,848m) from the north side guided by Montane mountaineer Jon Gupta. Mollie’s ascent makes the Edinburgh‐based and Devon‐born climber the youngest Briton, the first British woman to successfully scale the peak from both the north and south sides of the world’s highest mountain, having already summited Everest from the south side in 2012. To continue the string of firsts, this ascent makes Bristol‐based Jon the youngest British man to successfully summit from the mountain’s north and south sides (he previously ascended Everest in 2013 from the south side). 

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Gupta has drawn from a wealth of experience both guiding through his own company, Mountain Expeditions, and personally via many successful mountain summits to lead this expedition. Previous ascents include Island Peak (6,189m), Denali (6,196m), Ama Dablam (6,182m), Peak Korzhenevskaya (7,134m), Peak Communism (7,495m) and Khan Tengri (7,010m) to name but a few. Added to this, he successfully completed the 430 mile Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra earlier in 2017, has participated in a series of 7,000m ski‐descents and has also presented BBC documentary ‘India: Nature’s Wonderland’ alongside Freida Pinto and Liz Bonnin. In temperatures as low as minus 40C, Hughes and Gupta reached the summit at 1.14am GMT (5.34am local time in Nepal). 

With a £1 donation for every meter climbed, Hughes hopes to raise more than £8,000 funds for Cancer Research UK. She is being supported throughout the expedition by Tiso, the outdoor adventure specialist where she is an employee in Edinburgh and has been supporting British expeditions to Mount Everest since the 1970’s. Relaying a brief message shortly after reaching the summit, Hughes commented: “I am elated, exhausted and know I still have the hardest part to do – the long and difficult descent to base camp. Jon (Gupta) and I have already spent more than four weeks acclimatizing on the mountain. Thanks to a weather window, yesterday evening we left Camp 3 (8,300m) and we’ve finally reached the top. The climbing has been really, really hard but our mental and physical strength got us up here. I can confirm that the north side is definitely more difficult than the south side! “Huge thanks to Jon, the Sherpas [Lhakpa Wongchu Sherpa and Lila Bahadur Tamang Sherpa], family, friends and to Tiso as my principle sponsor on this expedition. I am really proud to be the youngest Briton to have scaled Everest from both sides – and to have raised funds to support the work of Cancer Research UK. Now, we’ll focus on achieving a safe descent from the top of the world.” 

Gupta described their summit attempt on Facebook from Base Camp at 8,300m: “After much umming, aahhing and studying of complex weather charts we [have decided] to ‘give it a go’ on the very early morning of 16th May. This isn’t a rash decision and we could well turn back and return to Base Camp empty handed [...] Either side of us are some strong winds and a little precipitation. But, as a small strong team, we might just be able to work with it and push through.” Hughes, who in 2012 summited Mount Everest from its south side at the age of 21, is 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 and Gupta have been periodically posting video clips during the record‐breaking ascent. One clip shows Gupta talking to camera as they camp at 7,069m on the north‐west shoulder of Everest and as part of their essential acclimatization process. 

A soundtrack by Britney Spears plays in the tent as Gupta reveals that a Rubik’s cube is among the items carried by the pair to test their mental alertness at altitude and to keep occupied during rest periods. While many climbers choose to ascend from the south, the north route from base camp in Tibet, China is considered to expose the mountaineers to colder and windier conditions. The route includes an arduous and psychologically testing final day ascent over three prominent rocky steps on the northeast ridge. All are negotiated at an altitude of over 8,500 meters (28,000ft) in the so‐called ‘death zone.’ Prior to her record‐breaking climb, Hughes had commented: “To climb Mount Everest is an incredible experience; one that is also the ultimate test of your psychological resolve and ability to cope with physical suffering. The spectacular north side of the mountain will push us to the limit. “I love climbing and adventurous activities. Hopefully, my second expedition to Mount Everest will inspire other young women to realize that with careful planning and determination, challenges can be overcome and dreams achieved.” In an article for Trek & Mountain magazine following his 2013 Everest summit, Gupta remarked: “Like many folk, Everest has a special draw for me ‐ I’ve been intrigued by its legends, history and myths and have read countless articles and books on the mountain and trawled over maps since a young age [...] Perhaps the biggest reason I wanted to go to Everest, though, was that I am a full‐time expedition and mountain leader and my life and love is about climbing mountains – so of course I wanted to climb the highest mountain in the world.”  

Chris Tiso, CEO of Tiso Group and who was part of the 2000 Tiso expedition on which Polly Murray became the first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest, commented: “Mollie Hughes is an inspirational young woman. All at Tiso Group are very proud that she has reached the summit after a long and difficult climb and entered her name in the Everest record books. It is a phenomenal achievement. “Of course, Mollie and Jon now face an equally daunting descent. All involved with the Tiso Return to Mount Everest 2017 Expedition wish them a safe return to base camp and look forward to welcoming Mollie home in early June.” Terry Stephenson, Montane’s Marketing Manager said of the summit news: “We are thrilled that Mollie and Jon have successfully and safely summited Mt Everest. Montane has supported Jon since 2012 and has seen his mountaineering career blossom, not just as an expedition leader, but as a stellar athlete in his own right, inspiring others through his expeditions, talks and sheer passion for his discipline. Jon’s energy, determination and mountaineering aptitude has seen him go from strength to strength! We are very proud to be associated with him and to have supported both Mollie and Jon with clothing and equipment for this expedition. All that remains is for the pair to complete an equally safe descent of Everest.” We at Montane would like to congratulate Mollie and Jon on their epic achievement! #FurtherFaster. For further information about Mollie Hughes Everest 2017 expedition, visit: www.tiso.com/everest and www.molliehughes.co.uk 

For further information about Jon Gupta, visit: https://www.montane.co.uk/jon‐gupta‐i17 and www.mountain‐ expeditions.co.uk MEDIA CONTACTS: North America James Graven james@treehouser.com United Kingdom Jo Coombs jo@montane.co.uk – ENDS – MOUNT EVEREST – SELECTED RECORDS 1924: British climbers George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempt summit from the north side. Unknown if they ever made the summit

1953: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary – first climbers confirmed to reach summit
1960: Chinese team claim to make first summit from north side of Everest 1975: Junko Tabei (Japan) – first woman to summit Mount Everest
1975: First ascent of south‐west face of Everest by a British team led by Sir Chris Bonington. Doug Scott and the late Dougal Haston reach the summit
1988: Lydia Bradey (NZ) makes first female ascent without supplemental oxygen
1993: Rebecca Stephens becomes the first British woman to climb Mount Everest 1995: The late Alison Hargreaves becomes the second British woman to climb Everest, ascending alone via the north ridge
1999: Kathy O’Dowd (South Africa) becomes the first woman at the age of 31 to climb Everest from both the south col (1996) and north col (1999) 16 May 2000: Polly Murray ‐ first Scottish woman to summit Mount Everest
2012: Leanna Shuttleworth (England) and 19 years old becomes the youngest British woman to summit Mount Everest 2012: Mollie Hughes (England) summits Mount Everest from the south side aged 21 2016: Lynne Hannah (Northern Ireland), at the age of 54, becomes the first British woman to summit Mount Everest from both the south (2009) and north (2016) 2017: Mollie Hughes (England) summits from the north side of Mount Everest. At the age of 26, she becomes the youngest British person to reach the top from both sides of the mountain. 

ABOUT MONTANE® British brand Montane was founded over 20 years ago. It engineers innovative, lightweight, breathable clothing and equipment for endurance sports and activities in some of the world’s most extreme environments. Montane works with leading expeditions and athletes in the world’s mountainous regions, supporting climbing, mountaineering, polar exploration and endurance trail running as well as sponsoring the world’s leading ultra distance endurance races. This expertise is used to create a collection of running, walking and mountaineering clothing that is developed to withstand some of the most extreme conditions and environments on the planet, allowing everybody who experiences the quality of Montane to go FURTHER. FASTER.

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