The 7 Summits Blog

Antarctica, the coldest desert in the world
15th December 2014
"Team, we are turning back. We can climb in complete white-out, extreme cold or high winds. But when you have all three elements against you it's safer to turn around" said Mike, our guide and seven times Vinson summitter.

It was soul destroying, quite frankly. We had all been working so hard with little rest and were all pushed to the very limit of our bodies. Now standing at the Rescue Point, despite almost being able to touch the summit, we didn't argue with Mike. It was -50C with windchill and we knew it was the right decision. Hungry for the summit but completely knackered, we turned our backs to the hiding peak of Mt Vinson and headed back to High Camp.

The expedition didn't have a brilliant start. Our team, another large group and ALE climbers were flown to the ice Wednesday 26 Non in a giant Russian cargo plane I spotted a couple of days earlier when I landed at Punta Arenas airport in Chile. We were all buzzing with excitement during the 4.5h flight, especially when we saw the announcement on the large screen: "BE ADVISED UNION GLACIER WEATHER WIND 180/ 15G 22kt TEMP -15C"
We were pretty hopeful that after landing on the ice and taken to Union Glacier, we'd be able to fly straight to Vinson Base Camp. The other teams did, sadly by the time it was our turn the weather got bad and we were told to stay put and wait for further news. And that's exactly what we did over the next three days. I spent that time reading some fantastic books and running around the camp as a pathetic attempt to exercise.
On Saturday 29 November, two Twin Otters left Union Glacier with the ten of us. The 35min flight provided some magnificent views of the Ellsworth Mountains, a 360km long chain of mountains (discovered in 1935 by Lincoln Ellsworth).

1. Ylyushin Russian Cargo from Punta Arenas, Chile to Union Glacier 2. Cloud blanket over Union Glacier Campsite 3. Twin Otters taking us to Vinson Base Camp

When we landed at Vinson Base Camp, it hit home where we were and what we were about to do. Away from the delicious food at UG, the comfort of your own bed, just mind blowingly beautiful landscape. We spent the rest of the evening cutting out the dining room in the snow and setting up tents. You could hear a few giggles from the toilet area, it had a view to die for!

The 24 hour day light in Antarctica can really mess with your mind and body. Having longer days certainly helped during the climb but when your aching body needs rest 'at night', you are in a world of trouble. The 3-men tents provided were just enough for 2 people and the duffels/ rucksacks. My teammate Susmita, from Nepal and I had our matt rolled out, inflatable matt as the next insulating layer then the sleeping bag carefully laid on the top. Both sleeping bags next to each other so the little body warmth we had could transfer. On our other sides, we stacked up the bags to stop us rolling off the matts and into the frozen solid material of the tent. My toes and head touched the front and the back of the tent. But this was just the sleeping set up, sleeping was another matter all together. Once you jammed all the layers, climbing boot liners, climbing boots, camera equipment, batteries, two water bottles inside the sleeping bag and you managed to feel moderately comfortable after zipping up, you had two choices. Keep the head out and brief the painfully cold air in or tuck yourself inside the sleeping bag/ cover your face. To keep the light out, I used an eye patch that nicely froze on my face every night so then just ended up chucking my black gore-tex trousers over to keep the light out. Battling with this sounds rather silly, when you're on an expedition in such an extreme and hostile environment, every minute you spend resting matter. Sleeping was clearly a bonus.

We carried to Camp 1/ Low Camp the following day, taking camp and group load as well as personal items. This was the first test how we operated as a team and climbed as individuals. The route only took about 4 hours, leaving the Base camp we ascended on a hill deep into the mountains, huge crevasse fields on both sides but the magnificent view of the white peaks surrounding. We had occasional breaks to drink water and grab munchies, sitting on the back of our rucksacks with our sleds pulled to the side of the track, we rested our bodies for a couple of minutes before cracking on. We returned to base camp knowing the following day would be harder, moving up with all our gear.
Little we knew that moving up to Camp 1 also meant building a fort then setting up the tents inside. Digging up snow for the dining tent big enough for 10 people and cooking facilities also seemed like a challenge but we all worked together like a group of ants and got the job done.
Spending the night at Low Camp, you could certainly feel the difference in temperature and we weren't even at High Camp when we were promised seriously low temperatures and extreme winds. I was really pleased with my strong climbing and positive attitude the previous days and was sooo ready for the carry to Camp 2 / High Camp. The following morning at breakfast, Mike announced that it would be an 'active rest day', meaning half of the group will carry personal and group gear to the top of the fixed lines, the other would turn around after the first break.
"And who's going up with you?" I asked Mike.

1. Room with a view! Looking towards the toilet area from Base Camp 2. Bed companions 3. Bottom to top of the fixed lines, as we saw it from Camp 1/ Low Camp

I was very pleased Mike picked me to carry with the four of them, I couldn't wait to test myself on the fixed lines. The slope looked intimidating from Low Camp but the higher we climbed the more adrenalin rushed through my veins, and getting to the top with a heavy load was a relief and a tiny success for this girl. Suddenly thought about all those cold & wet evenings, weeks of training in London up & down between Worple Road and Wimbledon Village, carrying a giant expedition rucksack, sipping water from the Camelbak and not stopping, like a lunatic.
The whole group moved up to High Camp the following day and I couldn't have felt better, stronger and determined. There was just a couple of days between us and the top...
The Swiss Alps & Matterhorn
12th October 2014
When I learnt I could take a couple of days off from work there was only one place I wanted to go back to. The Alps.

I booked my flight, train and accommodation about 2 weeks ago and immediately started looking into possible places to go hiking. My destination had to be Zermatt; a small town of roughly 5800 people lying at the foot of Matterhorn 4,478m (or Monte Cervino in Italian) an iconic emblem of the the Alps. I was under no illusion I would climb it this time, this entire season had the lowest number of people reaching the top (only 60) and the Hornli hut has been closed until the summer of 2015. This mountain hut was built by the Swiss Alpine Club and offers a shelter for climbers at 3,260m aiming for the Matterhorn summit the following morning. Without spending the night there, you haven’t got much chance to reach the top from the Swiss side. After this hut had been closed, a temporary base camp with 25 shelters was erected lower down on Hirli at 2,880m from 15 July until 15 September. But from what I hear, the weather played a huge part in many unsuccessful expeditions this year.

Still, tell an adventure photographer/ mountaineer she or he would be spending three days in the Alps and I would guarantee the first thing they do is check out the possibilities of reaching a summit of one of the peaks. And this is what I did too but the weather gods had a different idea.

When I arrived at my accommodation in Zermatt in the evening on Wednesday the 8th of October, I peeked out of my room and spotted the mountain I had been waiting for so long to see. The Matterhorn looked incredibly gracious in the setting sun and I fell in love with it. I was excited and ready to explore. Unfortunately, the following morning brought the bad news, clouds were moving in fast and wind reached 85km/h. The Schwarzsee cable car was closed but luckily Trockener Steg wasn’t so I was pleased to grab a ticket and get up the mountain to start the hike I planned for the day.

Since I had 3 days I didn't have to rush, not like when I climbed Mont Blanc in a day and a half. Also this time I was suffering with a badly bruised left tight, bum and groin from a road bike accident I had 3 days prior to this trip. Taking it easy was my only option.

When I arrived at Trockener Steg at 2939m I suddenly realised why other skiing areas were closed. The wind was strong and fierce but at that point, nothing could have stopped me. I started walking towards south west through a barren area, felt like the moon. The mountains were hiding behind the clouds but the stunning glacier lakes reminded me that i was very near the beautiful mountains. A three hour hike limping was enough for the day and I was slightly disappointed for not being able to capture the peaks. Never mind, there’s always tomorrow.
Well, the day after didn’t look better either. This was the day I planned to get up to Little Matterhorn at 3883m then onto Castor 4,228m, Pollux 4,092m or Breithorn 4,164m. However when I stood on the top of Klein Matterhorn I new immediately that no summit will be done that day. The wind was still blowing hard (all the ski areas were now closed) and when I found myself in the middle of the angry clouds I had to make sure the backpack was wrapped around me tightly and I had every single layer on. The cold was biting through my jacket and the stunning peaks I saw on my date of arrival were all hiding behind the ghost looking grey clouds. I was upset, really really upset. Here I am, in the famously breathtaking Swiss Alps and the weather is stopping me to climb further. And it was bad.. once second I was in a complete white out then the next thing I saw from the clouds separating were giant crevasses. I bumped into a couple of mechanics who told me I shouldn’t be out there and certainly not a good idea to wander far from Little Matterhorn. One thing I couldn’t miss though; capturing this unforgiven weather beating up the mountains around me. So I did what I had to, set off on a walk in the snow with my camera on my chest so when opportunity arises I would take photos of what was surrounding me.
After a couple of hours of being out snapping away, it was time to give in and accept that it was no game and I wasn’t going to summit any of the 4000’s. I was heart-broken but I had to get off the mountain and return to the valley.

My last day didn’t get off to a great start. It was raining in Zermatt and huge clouds were covering Matterhorn. I searched other areas like Chamonix and Verbier and while watching the webcams whilst shoving down my breakfast I realised I didn’t have much choice but to stick around until my 4pm train and hope for the best. I still hadn’t seen Zermatt so grabbed my camera, waterproof and went for a walk in the town. After about an hour, I knew that wasn’t where I was meant to be. Yes it was lovely to see the old part, popping into outdoor shops and checking out the area but my eyes kept looking for the famous mountain. I made a sudden decision; went back to the hotel to pick up some more layers, a book and some munchies and headed for the cable car station.
When I got off at Schwarzsee 2,583m my heart started beating faster. I can see it! Not the whole of it, but I can certainly see a lot more than I did in the last 2 days! That’s it, I’ve got 3 hours until I have to be back down in the valley, I am going for it! It only took me an hour to get up to a perfect spot. I sat down with my camera next to me and found myself talking to the clouds. “That’s fine, no rush, I can wait. But i will not leave until I got the shot I came here for.” Grabbed the book and started reading. There could have been worse places to spend my last couple of hours in Switzerland, might as well be up in the mountain at the foot of Matterhorn!
Half an hour later, the clouds changed direction and bit by bit I started seeing more of my adored mountain until the breathtaking triangle shaped peak emerged from the grey clouds. I felt so emotional. As a photographer, I didn’t need perfect weather with blue sky in fact I think I had the perfect afternoon to take pictures as the clouds were moving around the mountain. Every movement offered a new photo opportunity and man did I grab it! At 2pm, I was the happiest I had been during this trip. Nothing could have wiped the smile off my face, so I stuffed my down jacket into my rucksack and headed back down. At first, I turned back after every ten steps noticing that the view wasn’t as good as before so I wasn't too disappointed for leaving my perfect spot. Down in the valley, the sun came out and more blue sky was dominating the sky than earlier that morning. I picked up my duffel in the hotel and headed for the train station. I may not have climbed a 4000m peak but I ended up with some great shots and added some miles in my legs on the hills which is the best training I could have hoped for. Well, almost the best :)

Kilimanjaro, hakuna matata!
14th September 2014
Kilimanjaro 4-14 September 2014

We reached camp number 4 today.. feels wrong to pull out my macbook in this environment but I’ve got a free afternoon and I’m excited to tell you all about the trip so far..

After landing at Kilimanjaro airport on Thursday I was met by a smiling african man who took me to the Impala Hotel in Moshi. I felt rather knackered but I couldn’t take my eyes off the towns and people we drove past.
Met our guide Carrie in the hotel and the two guys from Manchester who arrived earlier. Steve from Nottingham turned up next then Alan; and our team was finally complete. Went out to grab dinner (which was served roughly 3 hours after ordering) but it gave us a chance to get to know each a bit.
O the first officially trekking day we were taken to the Londorossi Park Gate to register then our journey officially started on the Lemosho Route.

It was rather misty and wet all the way through to Mti Mkubwa Camp at 2800m. The scenery was stunning, felt like walking through Jurassic Park!

The following morning we carried on to Shira 1 Camp at 3500m after walking through a giant heather moorland zone. We still haven’t had a clue what surrounded us but soon after we arrived at the camp the clouds cleared and we had a sneak view of the mountains arounds us. This camp was on a huge flat plateau by the river; thanks to our porters carefully fetching our tents, we were on the quiet side of the huge campsite. We had a lovely lunch here and we all moved back to our tents for a kip. Meant to be going out for a walk in the afternoon but everyone felt tired and the weather wasn’t great either. We gathered again for dinner which always starts with a tasty warm soup followed by various dishes. Instead of sweets we get fruits for dessert which is normally my favourite part. We were talking about this the other day with the guys, which food we miss the most from home. I said a variety of fruits and salad - how dull! That night i didn’t sleep well and i was wondering how my team mates were doing. Apparently everyone had difficulty falling asleep, probably due to cheeky afternoon zizz. After packing up the bags and breakfast we carried onto Moir Camp which lays at 4165m. The terrain and the scenery was completely different again, this time we started on a long flatfish/ elevated route that eventually turned into more steep to test our scrambling skills. The sun finally did shine on us and every pit stop we had consisted of layers on or off. We were walking slowly but steadily. Spotted two westerner trekkers with two guides about an hour before Moir Camp, one of the poor guys was in a very bad shape and was throwing up near the path. Hits home when you see people suffering from altitude.. We rolled into Moir Camp from where you can finally see Kilimanjaro, making a fantastic time again and after a quick wash we headed straight for lunch in the team tent. We had a wee break after food and after 4pm we set off for an acclimatisation trek up to the rocks. It was a good exercise a stunning view of further peaks sticking out of the clouds as the sun was going down.. my first time having a tiny headache but as soon as we were back at camp around 7pm the headache was gone.

After dinner we quickly moved back to our tents and I watched some movies, I didn’t want to fall asleep too early.
This morning we left Moir zigzagging up to Lava Tower at 4600m where some other expeditions stayed. It was part of our acclimatisation so after having munchies, an ibuprofen, re-hydrating and feeding some vicious birds we descended to the Barranco Hut Camp at 3950m where I’m typing all this! It has been misty the second since we left Lava Tower so not much chance to take photos and I’m feeling the cold in the tent. Have a feeling the night is going to be nippy, maybe my brand spanking new -29C sleeping bag I’ve been roasting in the past 3 nights will finally come handy tonight. It’s Monday, 2 more tough days ahead of us then if everything goes as planned, going for the summit Wednesday midnight.

Waking up at 3900m felt good. Not when I looked into my tiny mirror and saw my right eye swollen. Being alone in the tent rules out room mate punching me in the middle of the nigh as well as the allergic reaction to down. Kerry says it’s probably just fluid if I spent the whole night sleeping on that side. After breakfast we got ourselves sorted and looked across the valley to the Barranco wall.

It looked intimidating and scary but in fact it was fantastic scramble up the hill by a series of rock ledges. We all really enjoyed it. It’s been a spectacular day which gives an ever changing vista of the summit. Once at the top a broad, rocky ridge traverses around the mountain with wonderful views of the Heim glacier. A short sharp descent past some amazing rock formations ears down into the Karanga Valler 4000m and the final climb to the campsite. Karanga Camp 4150m.

The final short stretch of the approach follows a rocky wind- beaten ridge close under the south flank of Kibo and crosses a large desolate bowl before climbing up to the obvious ridge to the Barafgu Hut at 4500m and the Camp at 4600m. We were pretty shattered when we arrived and all moved into our tents for an afternoon kip. We had some dinner, earlier than usual and discussed the summit night plan. Excitement in my tummy, I moved back to the comfort of my sleeping bag getting everything ready for the night. All my layers were tucked into the seeping bag and my rucksack was waiting for me. I was ready for this.

We left camp just after midnight on a good path marked by stones.. The climb goes onto the rocky slopes and into a wide gorge to the right of the Rebmann glacier. But of course, all of this was hiding in the dark night so all you could see was the person’s shoes and rucksack lit up by your head torch. We were moving very slowly…

In a funny way I was really happy for my team mates. None of them has been higher than Ben Nevis so it was their very first bog mountain. As I was thinking about this with a smile on my face, my body suddenly felt heavy and my feet were moving slower than before. I was well rested before the summit push so I knew it could be only one thing. I had been spared of the symptoms of the altitude during the entire trek, it had to effect me at some point. Without sounding over dramatic, the thing is, if you experience is the first time, all you want is to sit down, close your eyes and rest. That’s unfortunately the last thing you should do.

And the next 5 hours, I don’t remember much of. I kept on my feet and moved higher and higher, passing sick trekkers from other groups, I felt the urge to be reunited with my team mates and Carrie. And then something magical happened.

Light. I stopped to take a deep(er) breath, slowly turned around and the sun greeted me with beautiful orange and red colours on the horizon. The horizon stretched out as long as your eyes could follow it. It’s hard to put into words I felt that cry moment. Relived for sure. Even though it was weak but I felt the sun’s warmth arms on my back and ahead I could see where the path ended. When I got to the top I saw Paul and how happy my team mates were to make it to Stella Point at 5795m. After congratulating and reuniting here, Carrie and I encouraged the team to carry on to the very top, Uhuru Peak at 5895m. I MADE IT, TOP OF AFRICA BABY!

A flying descend back to high camp then a very long downhill rocky path into our last camp. Everyone felt tired when we arrived here at 3pm but we were still buzzing from the summit experience. 15hours and still on our feet! We ate dinner as if we had been starved and filled our belly again with yummy soup and a large main. Stayed up to play cards but very soon everyone moved back to their tents.
The following day we were back at the 4x4’s, a strange sight after 8 days on the mountain.

I have heard various opinions about trekking on Kilimanjaro. Yes, it is a long walk, yes it is not technical and yes sometimes the paths are busy with other teams and porters.
But the truth is, I spent 8 days and every single day I felt like I was in a different world or at a stunning movie set. You learn more about yourself, team work and human strength than anywhere else. You laugh, you walk, you struggle through the pain together but you are rewarded with nature’s beauty surrounding you from the first to the very last day of your expedition.
Preparation is almost everything
31st August 2014
I am always amazed how your body changes in between expeditions and prepares for the next challenge..

It’s been 45 days since I stood on the top of Mont Blanc after having made it to the top on my own. During that day and a half, I put my body through some extreme “workout”, starting with a long trek up to the Tete Rousse glacier onto some more technical scrambling, 2 + 2 hour sleep and leaving for the summit at 2.30am. At that point I felt incredibly strong and in shape. I remember putting one foot in front of the other on the Les Bosses ridges about an hour before the summit, not even worrying whether my legs would get me to the top. I didn’t have the luxury of time to take the descending easy so when I left the summit around 7.15am I headed back to the Gouter hut with only stopping twice to take photos, rehydrate and grab a snack. I collected my helmet from the hut and carried on heading down.
Since I was in the “first wave” of climbers heading down the mountain, I was lucky not be held up by people coming up on the rock face between the Tete Rousse and Gouter hut. It was a lot trickier going down on the rocks and after a while, putting my dignity aside I switched to a different way of descending – sat on my bum, swung my legs out into the air and with the help of my arms and pulled myself lower. It kept me closer to the rocks however I found my crampons catching the surface, luckily I managed to avoid getting completely stuck and flying face down into the void. I felt a lot safer when I was back on the Tete glacier continuing down the mountain. I made it back to the Mont Blanc tram station where I even had 20 minutes to lay down and relax my shattered body before the 1.30pm tram.
10 hours later I was asleep in my own bed in London.

It wasn’t until the following morning when I realized my body was in agony. I felt muscles hurting I didn’t know existed and if you saw me walking to work that day, you’d have thought I had more problems than just muscle pain! ☺
For the next three days I struggled with even the smallest moving tasks but absolutely nothing could wipe the smile off my face. In the evening of day three I knew what I had to do… an ice bath followed by a warm shower used by many athletes and sports men.
The icy water makes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your battered legs. I sat there for 15 minutes then took a warm shower, which helped pumping fresh blood back into my legs. I’ve read studies that suggest it helps with the inflamed area and the tissues to heal quicker. Must admit I felt like a million dollar the following day. After the next expedition, I will probably repeat this as soon as I’m home and not waiting for days! Lesson learnt there.

Each expedition is very different. Mont Blanc was an “express” day and a half climb, my next trek Kilimanjaro will take about 8 days and Everest next May will be a 2-month push. But it’s not just about the length of the trip; my training also varies from mountain to mountain.
At 5,895m / 19,341 feet above sea Kilimanjaro is the forth highest of the 7 summits and all trekkers suffer with altitude sickness. There will be very long hours of uphill walks day after day so I’ve been spending a lot of time on an inclined treadmill with a backpack on my back. I also attend two double- spinning classes a week as part of my daily training so my muscles are now used long workouts.
I also implemented a triathlon type training; after an hour on the treadmill I attend a double spinning then jump into the pool at the gym. When I’m back from Kilimanjaro, I would like to focus on this more.
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a 30-minute altitude spinning class at the Altitude Centre in Central London. This high intensity session was at a simulated altitude of 2800m in a chamber. Of course it’s something you need to do a couple of times a month to feel the effect but I was pleased when the session ended, my body was actually craving for more.

In three days I’ll be flying out to Tanzania to face my second of the 7 summits, Kilimanjaro. And what my body is craving now is food as if it knows what’s coming up. I don’t mind piling on a couple of kilos pre-trekking, I know I will shred more on the mountains.. you can easily burn 6-7000 calories climbing Kili!

It's easy to say I feel fit now but hiking up in altitude will be another story and the real test of strength and stamina... and I can't wait to be there! :)

Mont Blanc solo climb on 17 July
19th July 2014
Shortly after I returned from a successful expedition to the top of Mt Elbrus in June, I started looking into doing a solo attempt on Mont Blanc, as a training climb for the next '7 summit' peak.
I was still in a good shape but knew it would be a lot tougher physically and mentally than Elbrus; no ropes, team mates or guide to rely on and I only had a day and a half for the entire trek.

Before continuing the story, I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to one of my sponsors: Nuffield Health, who made it possible for me to train in the Wimbledon gym every day for two weeks prior to the climb. I saw the confusion on one of the personal trainer's face, the ' I thought I have already seen you here today".. I am so grateful for the support at Nuffield, the training ground is excellent and within only two weeks I saw a huge improvement in my fitness and I was ready for the climb.

The hike started around 8am Wednesday morning from Nid d'Aigle. First I reached the Tete Rousse hut area at 3167m, I cautiously stayed a few hundred meters from the hut not to be tempted to rest long. This is the spot where team members rope up and put crampons on before stepping on the Tete Rousse Glacier. It dawned on me, the serious trek is about to start. Once I crossed the huge glacier field and ascended to the Grand Couloir, I forgot about the others and how alone I was as I had to face the scary couloir. This narrow path on the steep slope (40 degrees and 30m long) is probably one of the most dangerous parts of the climb where rock falls happen so often many people loose their lives. The day before a 45 year old german man was hit by a rock and he fell to his death. I managed to get across ok and a rather enjoyable scrambling and rock climbing followed on the ridge which led me up to the old Gouter hut. After a short climb on the snow slope I reached the new Gouter hut at 3,835m just after 2pm.
Dinner is served at 6.30pm but I decided to have a giant plate of pasta carbonara at 4pm just before the kitchen closed, and stay up until dinner. When everybody was in the eating area, I went into the dorm and crawled onto bed. I had a couple of hours undisturbed sleep before the other climbers are back from dinner. Next thing I remember was a stunning pink light sneaking through the dorm window around 9pm so I quickly grabbed my camera and took some photos of the sunset. Went back to bed knowing I only had a couple of hours to rest before the summit push.

The 1.30am alarm wasn't needed, I hardly slept from excitement. I shared the dorm with about 25 other climbers and everyone started getting up and ready for breakfast which was served at 2 o'clock. I was out and ready by 2.30am. Headtorch on, crampons tightly fitted on my mountaineering boots, water bottle filled up and wrapped in a fleece, trekking poles fixed, ice axe tucked on the side of the rucksack, extra layers inside and sweets in the gore-tex jacket pocket. No turning back now.

After I climbed a couple of passes the route led me up the north-west face of Dome de Gouter. There's an emergency hut here called the Vallot hut where I stopped to re-hydrate and put a layer on. I had a chat with two guys in their sleeping bag, they hiked there the night before but hadn't left for the summit yet, told me they were going to wait for the wind to die down and the sun to come up. I couldn't wait to get out and continue! A steep snow slope followed which led me to the beginning of the Bosses ridge. Tackled the Grande Bosses first then onto the Petite Bosses; I can tell you both looked pretty 'grande' to me! This was roughly the time when the sun started coming up behind the horizon and painted the sky in the most beautiful colours. To my right, I even saw the shadow reflection of Mont Blanc which was so striking I had to stop to take a photo. The ridge is not the best place for it though, after a good couple of hours of climb and already at altitude, it's easy to loose balance and disappear. It was a good opportunity to grab my GoPro camera from the rucksack and attach it to my chest. Pressed play and carried on with trekking pole in one hand and ice axe in the other
The last part before the summit was an even more exposed ridge but by then I knew the top was so close and I could almost touch it. The last couple of meters felt like walking on clouds and I loved the warm sun touching my face. I even forgot about my worries about not having acclimatized or not being roped to anyone. That was it. The summit of Mont Blanc. At 6.45am, I made it.
I spotted a french guide with his clients who I chatted to the day before and I went up to him. As soon as he hugged me and gave me a kiss on my cheek, my tears were flowing out uncontrollably. The 360 degree view from the top was breath taking, everywhere I looked a peak was smiling back at me. The sky was bluer than I had ever seen it and the weather was just wonderful.

They say, getting to the summit is only half the job so I collected my ice axe, pole and rucksack and headed down. The stunning view was just getting better and better. I made it back to the Gouter hut at 9am and after a quick break I was descending back down on the rock face then crossed the Grand Couloir and down to the Tete Rousse Glacier. I had a quick break here and took my crampons off, the gaiters around my ankle, packed away the jacket and fleece and was wearing a wool top again as the sun was high already high. Caught the 1.50pm tram then the 2pm cable car and I was back in Les Houches. That quickly, it was over. 10 o'clock that evening I was on the flight to London.

My next '7 summit' expeditions are Kilimanjaro 4-14 September and Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia in October with Adventure Peaks.
I've just been accepted by the fantastic IMG (International Mountain Guides) to climb Mt. Vinson in Antarctica with them in November, so a lot more training, photography and hopefully successful summits ahead this year.

I would like to thank you all for the amazing support and believing in me.

Expeditions confirmed
14th July 2014
Kilimanjaro, Africa: 4-14 September 2014

Carstensz Pyramid, Oceania: 3-16 October 2014

Vinson Massif, Antarctica: 23 November - 9 December 2014
Let's b-eat this!
26th June 2014
There’s a charity close to my heart and I just wish I knew about it when I was 16…
It is called b-eat and for the past 21 years they have been working with people affected by eating disorders and working in partnership with the media to promote positive reporting about these challenging conditions.

I was surprised to learn there are 1.6million people in the UK who are affected. The condition can affect anyone at any time but girls and young women aged 12-20 are most at risk.

The cause of eating disorders are complex and not yet fully understood but include a mix of genetic, biological and cultural factors. It is not a life style choice, I did not chose to be ill and wasn’t looking for attention. I was young with an unbelievably hectic schedule at high school and after school. I wasn’t eating regularly. Modelling and dancing was one of things I enjoyed doing however when I was told I needed to loose more weight, things rapidly went downhill. I do not blame my parents for not acting sooner, they knew I worked hard but one morning I was so weak I couldn’t get up. My father took me to the doctor who bluntly said, if I didn’t start eating I could die.
Luckily I had the summer break ahead of me and with the loving care of my mother I started eating, and holding down the food. I played sports at school so knowing I could get back healthily at the start of the semester was a great motivation.

There can be a serious long term consequences to physical health if the conditions are not treated quickly.

Nowadays I lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle. I don’t follow strict diets but I don’t eat junk food either. I work out, look after my body but also enjoy a glass of wine and the food I eat. I spend as much time outdoors as I can I cherish every moment in life.

As an ambassador I am very proud and happy to raise awareness of the complexity of the issues, causes and risks and challenging the stigma associated with eating disorders. I will continue offering advice for people directly affected their families and others at risk and promoting the message of hope that eating disorder can be beaten with the right treatment and support.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you
26th June 2014
I am overwhelmed by the amount of support and positive words I've been receiving since endeavouring to climb the 7 summits.
It gives me an immense amount of energy and I am so thankful for everything.

Mom & Dad

my dear friends - you know who you are

Tim M. & Claire K.

Nuffield Health Wimbledon for providing an excellent training ground

and everyone at b-eat

The Climb
15th June 2014
It’s 3pm on Tuesday 10th of June. I’m back in the comfort of my tent at Base Camp and decided to sum up the previous 8 days.. It’s not easy!
When I landed in Minerlanye Vody on the 2nd and after waiting for an hour at the airport, a taxi driver turned up and said he would take me to the hotel. The rest of the expedition members arrived by the evening and after Andrey, our guide had checked our equipment in the room, we all went for a meal which was a great opportunity to get to know each other.

The start
There were 2 mini buses waiting for us and our bags outside the hotel on Tuesday the 3rd. These were loaded with food and our equipment and the group was split into half.
It was a bumpy ride but eventually we got to Base Camp. It started raining and it was pretty cloudy but after lunch we got into hiking gear and walked to the mineral water place.
The following day we hiked up the Mushroom rocks and back to BC. The day after on the 5th we took some of our stuff up to High Camp and moved back to BC for the night. On Friday the 6th we all moved up with the rest of our gear. On Saturday the 7th, Andrey took us to Lenz Rocks 4600m to acclimatise and said we had a day off on 8th before the summit bid.

Higher and higher
Both acclimatisation hiked went well and I felt pretty positive. The weather was changing constantly and we had to make sure to have a goretex jacket with us all the time. I wore merino wool as a base layer and found it very comfortable on hot and cold days.
By the time we moved up to High Camp the group jelled together nicely. When we had breaks, we would drink,munch on our lunch and have a chat. We got on incredibly well and I’m so pleased I decided to climb in a group. When you feel down or happy, there’s always someone there.. the moral was always pretty good but there was some nervous excitement in the air before summit night..

Getting to the top
On Sunday the 8th we were still guessing whether we could leave at 1am.. the weather hadn’t been great and although the forecast was good for the 9th, lots of snow had fallen and it didn’t look good.
We spent the rest day eating and chilling out in the hut and before dinner Andrey broke the news.. the good one was that we had an extra guide, Natalie but the weather wasn’t looking great and he thought we had to use our preserved day for the summit. We all ate dinner and went back to our sleeping bag for a 2 hour rest, nobody could sleep. We heard Andrey getting up at 11pm and announced that we would try and summit. We had breakfast soon after and by midnight we were ready to leave the hut. He lined us up in the snow, put our crampons on and half an hour after midnight we started the ascent from High Camp.
The night was nippy but the adrenalin kept everyone awake and we started moving slowly, roped up. After a tricky loo break in the harness we continued to the small rocks and from there we unlocked our carabiners from the rope and went up to Lenz rocks 4600m individually. We made good time and stopped there for a quick break then continued climbing under the stars..

What happened after is still quite hazy; all I remember is Natalie telling us to stop and turn around, it was a glorious sunrise. First time I had a good look around and breathed the fresh mountain air in. Unfortunately we couldn’t enjoy the stunning view for long; weather closed in, wind picked up and by this our group had split. During every break Andrey told us he wouldn’t take us to the top, it was dangerous and the few people we popped into said it was impossible. We met a group of Icelandic skiers during one of our acclimatisation hike and they were going for the summit the same night. We saw them every now and then but they must have taken a different route up..
I actually really enjoyed the first part of the ascend; prepared a great ’summit’ playlist the day before and I felt strong. At about 5200 we expected Andrey to turn around as he had said before he would, we could not see anything around us. And that was roughly the time the altitude started taking a toll on me..

We were told that it would take about 8-10 hours to get to the top. Since we were pretty fast during both acclimatization and summit push to the Lens Rocks, we expected to match the "general" summit push length. One thing we didn't count on was the weather and our group had already lost 3 members. Amazingly, at 12.30pm on Monday the 9th of June, 5 out of 8 of us have made it to the top. We were told not to get out camera out and posed for one team picture then literally flew down the mountain in 3 hours!

Everybody including myself passed out after what we all agreed was one of the hardest days.. We moved back to to Base Camp this morning and couldn't believe how much the place have changed. Have we been away for that long? Looking at the newly built tents, the season is certainly about to start but it makes me incredibly proud to say we were the first team this season summitting Mt. Elbrus from the more difficult North side.

from left to right: myself, Avilash Bisht (IN), Kuntal Joisher (IN), Sarah Kingdom (ZA), Jorgen Evang (NO) and our guide Andrey Voronin (RU).
Tour de Magyarorszag
05th June 2014
(A one off article in Hungarian. For English please click translate at the bottom of this page. )

Amikor repjegyet foglaltam haza nem ugy keszultem hogy vegig turnezom a 6 napot de igy alalkult es milyen jo volt!

Komlo TV-nel kezdtem ahol talan meg nehez volt ertelmes mondatokat magyarul kipreselnem igy parszor ujra kellett venni valaszokat de a fiuk nagyon turelmesek voltak es a vegere en is belelendultem.
A 35 perces adast itt lehet megnezni:

Az eloadasokra mar Londonban keszultem; egy 10 perces klippet vagtam ossze a hegyes videoimbol ami ala stilus szeruen a ‘Mountains’ cimu szamot illesztettem be plusz dramakent. Oke Oscart valoszinu nem kapok ezert a roved filmert de szerintem eleg jol sikerult es tudtam egy szosszenetet atadni a vendegeknek.

Magyarszeken volt az elso eloadas Punkosd hetfon, ahol sikerult megteliteni a termet ismeros es ismeretlen, de kedves arcokkal. Szuleim is ott voltak akik par sztorit akkor hallottak eloszor! (Nekik altalaban a finomitott verziot szoktam elmeselni az expediciok utan..)
A magyarszeki polgarmester koszontese utan bele is vagtam es az eloadas utan volt ido kerdes valaszokra is. Nem tudtam hogy mire szamitsak de ennyi biztato es kedves szo egy hatalmas loketet adott a het elejen. Arrol nem is beszelve hogy hivatalosan a magyarszeki sportegyesulet tagjava hirdettek!
Masnap Pecsen voltam a Pannon TV-vel interju a Nappali barban majd ott felallitottuk az projector es atmentunk a Vasutas Muvelodesi Hazba ahol a Vagabond Vilagjaro Klubban adtam eloadas a 7 hegycsucsrol. A kerdes-valasz reszt le kellett roviditenem es sajnos nem tudtam az eljott vendegekkel sokat beszelgetni mert rohannom kellett vissza a Nappali Barba (Kiraly utca) ahol addigra mar kezdett megtelitodni a helyseg. Felemelo erzes volt amikor sok baratsagos es mosolygo arcot lattam a nezok kozott es ugy erzem talan, mire addigra mar bemelegettem, talan addig az volt a legjobb eloadasom.

Dedikalt PM Lemez :)

Innen is sajnos el kellett viharozni mert az utolso Pecs- Bp Oszkaros taxit foglaltam le aznap estere.

Unokanoveremhez ejfelkor ertem fol (hulla faradtan) de mivel 2 eve nem lattuk egymast egy jo darabig fennt maradtunk csevegni.
Reggel koran volt a keles mert mentem ki a Hit Radio 9es elo musoraba es elobb oda szerettem volna erni hogy legyen idom letolni a kakaos csigat amit elozo nap anyukam keszitett be az ‘uzsonnas’ szatyorba. A legtobb kakao a szam korul lehettet szetmaszatolva amikor kijott a producer a studiobol hogy szeretnenek egy szelfit a facebookra.

A fantasztikus hangulatu egy oras adas nagyon gyorsan leporgott es azon vettem eszre magma hogy szantotam at a varoson hogy beerjek az interjura amit a Kossuth radionak vettunk fol.

Ezutan egy gyerekkori baratomat latogattam meg a Gild Florianban aki ott egy szuper es sikeres szemelyi edzo. Vele evtizedek ota ismerjuk egymast es termeszetesen volt kozos tema.. ha nem kellett volna rohannom az M1-hez bevallaltam volna siman egy edzest nala mert igen ram fert ☺

Az M1es elo tv meghivasnak is borzasztoan orultem.

Sminkes & fodrasz probal valamit kihozni a lehetetlenbol.. mission majdnem accomplished.:)

Bar izgultam mert nem kaptam meg elore a kerdeseket de Radnai Csaba-val nagyon jol lepergettuk a 8perces feature-t a delutani hiradoban. Itt lehet megnezni:

Az egyenes adas utan bent maradhattam a studioban es fulesen at hallgattam a hirado tovabbi reszet. Imadnek a TV-nek dolgozni!

A PR turanak utolso allamosa a Budapest belvarosi Godor klubban volt. Megtelt a terem itt is es nagyon jol sikerult. Hangom mar nem nagyon maradt a vegere de hihetetlenul jo volt amikor sokan ott maradtak az eloadas utan meselni hogy ki merre jart a nagy vilagban es mik a terveik. Meg mindig ledobbenek hogy ennyien foladtak az esti progijukat es eljottek meghallgatni az eloadasomat..A nyuzsis napot/ hetet egy finom vacsival fejeztem be baratokkal.

Eljott a visszautazasom napja es pont szulinapom is volt ☺ Unokanoveremmel egy lustis laza reggeli utan (mintha az orvos irta volna fel) elmentunk egy nagyot setalni Budara a gyonyoru napsutesben. Talan ez volt az elso alkalom amikor nem kellett atrohannom a varoson es radobbentem milyen csodalatos a fovarosunk.

Ezuton is szeretnem megkoszonni a segitseget:

Szuleimnek akik mint mindig mellettem, mogottem alltak.
Unokanoveremnek a tamogatasert, szallasert es az utolso pillanatos laptop toltoert.. jo tudni hogy barmikor szamithatok ra– koszi Zsu es nagybatyjamnak – azert a telefon hivasert.. es uzenem hogy “befejezzuk a kerekpar szakaszt” ☺
A mamamnak akivel nem tudtam eleg idot tolteni es remelem hamar begyogyul a keztocsontja.. (84 evesen meg biciklizik.. kire is utottem ☺ )
Koszonet az osszes otthoni baratnak akik megertettek a zsufolt progit de igy is ossze tudtunk hozni talikat es azoknak is akik eljottek az eloadasomra. Jo volt Titeket latni.
A szilvasi ovi dolgozoinak koztuk draga keresztanyamnak, imadok visszajarni a regi ovimba.

Szponzori es media tamogatasok:

Posztos Aniko @ iQor
Karpati Jeno @ Magyarszek Polgarmester
Pamer Balint a szuper facebook banner designert
Rimai Timea @
Karagic Isti & Magyar Feri @ Komloi TV
Kuti Gergely @ Pannon TV
Radnai Csaba & Koknya Dorottya @ M1
Fekete Rita & stab @ HIT Radio Budapest
Burkert Rudolf @ Kossuth Radio

Vagabond Pecs
Nappali Bar Pecs
Godor Klub Budapest csapatainak.

.... halasan koszonok mindent.

Alexandra (de sokaknak meg mindig Szasza :) )
The packing..
31st May 2014
I spent the past couple of weeks training hard, getting the last bits of equipment and gear and watching every single climbing video of Mt. Elbrus North side on youtube.
Yet I know that nothing can quite prepare me for the harsh weather, altitude and the long days of pushing higher and higher on Europe's tallest mountain in the Caucasus Range.

It's been 2 years since I was at altitude in the Nepal Himalayas and although Mount Elbrus rises "only" 5,642m (18,510ft) above the sea level, it is the deadliest mountain of the 7 summits. As many as 30 people die there every year due to altitude sickness and effect of the the extreme cold, many poorly trained individuals get into trouble for these reasons.

Excitement has turned into nervousness; am I going to be able to capture the raw beauty of the mountain? Will I make it to the top and back? Are my legs going to carry me all the way? Am I mentally prepared?

I had to choose the mountaineering equipment rather carefully.. Nowadays there is a large variety of ice picks, trekking poles, clothing items available but for me weight was always going to be an issue as I'll be carrying DSLR cameras etc so I decided to pick the lightest yet toughest ones possible:
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles
Black Diamond Venom Adze Ice Axe
Grivel G12 crampons

To protect my eyes from the strong sun and snow blindness, I'm taking the Julbo Revolution Zebra googles and the Julbo Trek glacier sunglasses.

I've got a pair of Salomon trail running shoes for traveling Salomon Quest for lower altitude trekking and the Scarpa Phantom Guide for technical and icy terrain.

As per camera gear, I am taking my Nikon D800 with the 24-70mm f2.8 & 10.5mm f2.8 super wide angle lens. I'll also have the bombproof Panasonic Lumix DMC FT5 and a GOPRO Hero 3+ to take photos and videos during the expedition.

Along with the -20C Mountain Equipment Snowline down sleeping bag I'm taking a self- inflatable matt for extra cushioning and protection against the cold at night.

Most of the gear is brand new and hasn't been tested by me but I fully trust the brands and the feedback from other climbers. Look forward to reporting back with my personal feedback! ;-)

The training
18th May 2014
In 2 weeks I'll be packing (and probably panicking) for Elbrus! Here is how I prepare myself physically for the first summit:

Monday & Wednesday evening spinning classes at Kings Sport in Wimbledon. The three instructors are absolutely fantastic; Mike, Lisa and Louise. We do a lot of hills, sprints and intervals, the classes are always different, hard work but I really enjoy it. This is how I trained for the 3 week Gokyo Lakes/ Everest/Kala Patthar solo trek in 2012.

Tuesday & Friday evenings I'm normally in the Kings gym - running and hill climbing on the treadmill, weights lifting, doing abs exercises, pushing hard on the gym bike on 'Hill' mode and trying to figure out how to use the big scary machines.

I noticed my knees don't like when I run on tarmac so I prefer trail running. Luckily I live near Wimbledon Common, a fabulous place to exercise outdoors.

I sold my car about 6 months ago and bought a Carrera bike so I cycle everywhere - grocery shopping, work, meeting friends or picking up expedition gear. I swear by it. Not much fun in the rain but keeps my legs strong and I feel like I've done something on non-gym/ spinning days.

I've been making short clips during working out on my GoPro Hero 3+ camera and will be adding a training video before I'm off to the Caucasus.

The Plan
09th May 2014
Just over a month ago I decided to climb the 7 summits - the 7 highest mountains on the 7 continents. These are:

Mt Elbrus 5642m Russia - EUROPE
Kilimanjaro 5892m Tanzania - AFRICA
Carstensz Pyramid 4884m Indonesia - OCEANIA
Vinson Massif 4892m - ANTARCTICA
Aconcagua 6962m Argentina - SOUTH AMERICA
Mt McKinley 6194m Alaska - NORTH AMERICA
Mt Everest 8848m Nepal - ASIA

I have given myself 2-3 years to complete it; with sponsorship, training and support I believe I can do it.
I will be taking photographs during each expedition and hopefully once I've climbed all 7 mountains and come back in one piece, I'll put on a photography exhibition.
I hope I will inspire young people during my journeys, especially who suffer with eating disorders. I've decided to donate 10% of sales of my pictures to a charity called b-eat.