Over the last few days we’ve been featuring some of the young British women heading to the Himalayas this season to attempt to climb Everest, and today we speak to the most ambitious of them all, 18-year old Leanna Shuttleworth.
Leanna will be attempting this April to become the first woman ever to summit two 8000m peaks in 24 hours, a feat only achieved once before, in 2011, by Garrett Madison, Michael Horst and Tom Halliday. Leanna will be attempting Everest first, before heading back to high camp on the South Col, and from there will attempt Lhotse with only a few hours rest. Says Leanna about the challenge ahead: “It’s going to be very challenging physically and mentally, so I’ve been training hard to prepare – especially for the extremely low temperatures and high altitude, where we’ll need breathing apparatus. But I am feeling confident and I really hope that my climb will encourage other young women to get involved with the sport, which is so traditionally male.”
If Leanna summits Everest, she will also become the youngest British woman to have completed the Seven Summits, having previously climbed Aconcagua, Koscuisko, Kili, Elbrus, Denali and Vinson Massif. But what started her off on her mountaineering career? “At school one of my teachers – who later became a Mountain Guide – organised a trek to Everest Base Camp, and I enjoyed it so much that I promised myself that I would one day go back and climb Everest itself.”
Since then she has been continuously climbing and training, with her dad Mark taking up climbing himself to become her regular climbing partner. Asked about the seemingly increasing number of young women taking to the mountains, Leanna says: “Women are just as capable of climbing mountains and I’m proud to be one of a number of young British women who are now active in the sport. I also hope that my achievements might inspire someone to realise that they can achieve their dreams, however far-fetched they may seem.”
You can follow Leanna’s progress at her website, listed below, and tomorrow we’ll be having a brief chat with the woman who has perhaps acted as a pathfinder, if not role model, for the current crop of young British female mountaineers – Bonita Norris. Bonita herself is heading back to the Khumbu this season, but not to climb Everest again – this time it’s the fourth highest mountain in the world, Lhotse, and we also ask her opinions on young people, and women in particular, climbing Everest and other extreme altitude peaks.