At just 26 years old, Mollie Hughes became the youngest woman in the world and the first English woman to summit Mount Everest from both sides. In 2017, Mollie stood on top of the world for the second time after her first summit from the south side in 2012. From this major feat, Mollie experienced a whirlwind of ups and downs that led to lessons that can be applied to any adventure.
1. Find Your Inspiration
Everest hadn’t always been on Mollie’s mind. In fact, it wasn’t something she considered herself capable of climbing. At her final year of University, Mollie chose to write her dissertation on the psychology of climbing Mount Everest. She interviewed 7 men who climbed Everest and how they dealt with the psychological barriers and pressure. After the first interview, Mollie was hooked and she knew she wanted to climb Everest herself.
Talking to people who’d already been on the adventure inspired Mollie. In her search to find women who climbed Everest, Mollie found a woman who’d climbed Everest at 22 years old. When she saw that a woman so close to her age climbed the mountain, Mollie knew she could do it. While the men inspired Mollie, it was a woman’s example that really gave Mollie the confidence to embark on her adventure.
2. Commit to Fundraising
Getting the money and sponsorship to go on an adventure can be a huge barrier. Just knowing how much it will cost stops most people from planning their expedition. By looking at the websites of people who had already climbed Everest, Mollie learned how she could get financing from businesses and sponsorship. She planned to get corporate sponsorship by setting a record. Mollie outlined everything she had to offer and sent it out to 30-40 companies each week for almost a year. The rejections were hard, but Mollie had been told that sponsorships often came at the last moment possible. Talk about nail-biting!
Before a practice expedition to train for Everest, Mollie had a fundraising evening with friends and family. She held an auction where businesses donated things and while she had a number of donations, she still wanted a big ticket item that would really get the bids coming in. The morning of the event, Mollie had an idea to sell her bum as space for a tattoo. The idea was a hit and Mollie got around £1,000 for her right bum cheek which now features a tattoo of two kissing chickens. That is dedication.
3. Get Support
A year after her decision to climb Everest, Mollie started the climb and faced one of the most terrifying places on Everest with huge crevasses and teetering ice blocks. Between base camp and camp one there were more than 20 of these adrenaline-pumping obstacles.
Throughout her experience of this fear, Mollie kindled a deep want to keep going and keep experiencing the mountain. Every single day Mollie had to push herself almost to her limit. Having a team made a big impact on Mollie’s ability to keep going. Having someone to support you and uplift you can be huge during an adventure that pushes what you thought you were capable of doing.
4. Master Your Mindset
One of the hardest aspects of climbing Everest was maintaining a positive mindset. From beginning to end, Mollie faced a challenging 60-day climb. When you’re starting out with something that big ahead of you, you can’t help but wonder how you could possibly climb this huge mountain. The only way to do it is to take it one day at a time, Mollie advised.
Throughout several of her expeditions, Mollie realised that you have to be able to separate your emotions from the everyday emotions you’d have at home. While walking past someone who died in your regular life would be very traumatic, on the mountain you have to numb your emotions and keep going because it just happens.
On Mollie’s first summit of Everest, she admitted she was scared every day. The hardest part was summit day climbing in the death zone. At that point, Mollie had to control everything, focus on the climb, and keep breathing.
5. Know Your Ability
After achieving her goal of summiting Everest from both sides, Mollie had learned that as human beings, we can achieve anything if we want it enough.
Everest took everything Mollie had, but with enough effort, Mollie had achieved her goals. She learned that you can really achieve anything you want. All it comes down to is having enough perseverance and determination. Your body can do anything if you want to do it enough.
When you’re in the depths of a real challenge, this can be a game-changing realisation. You can keep going if you want it enough. Draw on that desire and determination to reach your goal.
6. Give Yourself Time
After Mollie’s second summit of Everest, she came back super tired. For two weeks she could hardly wake up without needing another nap. At times when you push your body so hard for so long, you do need that time to recover.
It may feel like your body isn’t working and that’s okay. Listen to your body and take it easy. You deserve this rest time after you’ve worked so hard. Don’t go back to work too soon. Enjoy your accomplishment and recover.
With 6 years spent focusing on Everest, Mollie doesn’t know what’s next. She simply shared, “I don’t have anything else to prove to myself.” While she knows exciting things are ahead, she’s content with her achievement and patiently waits for what comes next.
You can listen to Mollie on the Tough Girl Podcast