Charlene Gibson grew up as a studious bookworm, who wasn't keen on the outdoors. She is an only child who was brought up by her Mum and Nana in a pretty rough area of Scotland, near Glasgow. Although an avid reader of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, there was really nothing adventurous about her at all.
However, in her mid 30s, following the break-up of a long-term relationship, she discovered her inner adventurer when, to avoid spending Christmas alone, she booked on a trekking holiday to Morocco. Despite the horror of having to nip behind a rock, armed with only a roll of toilet paper and some matches, she discovered that she loved the trip (albeit still not quite used to nipping behind a rock!) and decided that she wanted more. Trips to Turkey, Morocco (again), Kazakhstan, India, Peru and Nepal followed, with each trip being more strenuous and challenging than the last. That could only lead to one thing - mountaineering!
In 2013 she decided to aim high and successfully summited Mera Peak in Nepal, which is classed as a 'trekking' peak. Despite the success, it highlighted to her the limits of her mountaineering skillset and how fortunate she'd been that nothing had gone wrong. Several high-quality mountaineering courses later and rather more experience under her belt saw her looking for a worthy challenge to help celebrate (or commiserate) turning 50 in 2016. And what better challenge than attempting an 8000m peak for the first time. On 1st October 2016, Charlene became the oldest British woman to summit Cho Oyu (8201m) and living proof that the most unlikely people can sometimes do the most surprising things - it's certainly been a surprise to her mother.
As of March 2018, her Cho Oyu record still stands, but will be under threat in Spring 2018, when two British women will be vying for it.
Charlene's next challenge is to attempt Ama Dablam in October 2018.
Growing up in Scotland and joining the civil service
Growing up as an only child, with not much interest in the outside
Starting trekking in 2000
Hating PE and doing everything she could to get out of it
Getting into mountain biking, but never describing herself as outdoorsy
Breaking up with the boyfriend after 12 years
Deciding not to spend Christmas and New Year alone
Heading to Morocco to trek for 2 weeks and getting hooked!
First time going on holiday by herself and feeling nervous
Taking that first step and not knowing what to expect
Why it’s about challenging yourself and not about other people
Enjoying being uncomfortable and starting to understand more about her limits
Dealing with lost luggage & how to handle it!
Being shy and dealing with the group dynamics
Developing fitness and starting to run - even though she doesn’t like running and would never call herself a runner!
The Everest Marathon - being fit and healthy enough to start it.
Rally Driving from Plymouth to Dakar (in a free car costing less than £100!)
Looking for a change in 2013! Deciding on mountaineering!
Summiting Mera Peak in Nepal and wanting to see how she coped with the altitude
Developing technical skills… while on the trip and doing courses to continue to develop the skills needed
Tibet - 1st October 2016 - Climbing Cho Oyu (6th highest mountain in the world!) 8,201 metres!
Wanting to do something special for her 50th birthday
Summit night and struggling with acclimatisation and not knowing if she was going to make it
Reflecting back on what she’s achieved - especially in relation to knowing her own personal limits!
What’s next!! - Climbing Ama Dablam in Oct 2018!
Running and working with a personal trainer!
Advice and tips for stepping outside your comfort zone and why going the commercial route could work for you
How she funds her trips and why she pays for it herself
Doing mountaineering for herself