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Elise Wortley - Writer and Adventurer. Women with Altitude.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Elise in her own words:

“To me, Alexandra David-Néel’s book My Journey to Lhasa was one of those books I just couldn’t get over. You know when you read a book or see a film and you keep thinking about it for weeks afterwards, it was like that. Except that with this book, I never stopped thinking about it. The book recounts the final six months of Alexandra's epic 14 year journey through Asia, her quest to reach the forbidden city of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Against all odds, dressed as a poor pilgrim, she reached Lhasa in 1924.

12 years after reading this book for the first time, I was still wondering just how she managed to achieve what she did. 14 years of dealing with the cold, the wet, illness and of course the constant pressure and difficulty that came with being a female traveller in the early 1900s.

So, I decided to act on that idea that had always been in the back of my mind - to recreate Alexandra’s journey in some way, and to experience life travelling as a woman as closely as she would have done. I realised that the only way to truly do this, and to truly do her journey justice would be to do exactly as she did, taking with me only what she had. This meant NO modern day mountain equipment. So with my yak wool coat, a wooden backpack I made out of an old chair and an all-female team in tow, I set off in search of a special cave, the worlds third highest mountain and answers to questions I'd had for the last 13 years.

After returning from this life-changing first expedition, I realised that the stories and achievements of histories female explorers like Alexandra should be celebrated and never forgotten. I've made it my mission to bring these stories back to life, to inspire this generation and the next the same way they have inspired me. In July 2019 I set off on my second adventure to the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland, to follow in the footsteps of Nan Shepherd, one of the UK's best known nature writers and mountain wanderers.”

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Listen to Elise Now!

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Show notes

  • Who is Elise/lise and how she would describe herself

  • Reading Alexandra David-Néel book "My Journey to Lhasa" at 16 years old

  • Growing up in the country side and spending lots of time in the outdoors

  • Not knowing what she wanted to do

  • Doing an art degree and wanting to be an artist

  • Starting to work at a travel company

  • Starting Women with Altitude website

  • Deciding to do the first trip at 28 years young

  • The planning and preparation process

  • Trying to find the old equipment

  • Figuring out the route

  • The gear…. and why it was better than you think

  • Heading over to India for the start of the journey

  • Being joined by a filmmaker (Emily) and a local guide (Jangu)

  • The magical moments from the trip

  • Dealing with the altitude sickness and the cold

  • Managing periods while on the adventure

  • Spending a month in the mountains

  • Finding the cave where Alexandra meditated for 2 years

  • Tummo breathing

  • After completing the challenge and heading home

  • Dealing with anxiety, panic attacks and having a lack of confidence

  • Wanting to take on a new adventure

  • Trying to highlight a woman from the UK - The Nan Shephered Trip

  • Who is Nan Shepherd?

  • Her book - The Living Mountain

  • Making a plan to go to Scotland

  • What her time in Scotland was like

  • Being vegetarian and trying to eat like the 1940s

  • Not having any modern equipment

  • What days were like

  • Dealing with the nerves before the trip starts

  • Journey number 3

  • Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen of Ireland

  • Dame Freya Madeline Stark DBE - Anglo-Italian explorer and travel writer.

  • Figuring out how much things costs and paying for challenges

  • Pitching the idea to TV channels

  • The women who have inspired Elise

  • Final words of advice


Social Media

Twitter: @altitudewoman


Emily Almond Barr - Film maker

Instagram: @emilyalmondbarr


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