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What's Stopping You? Youngest British Female to Climb Everest - Bonita Norris E148

Bonita Norris, was the youngest British woman to climb Everest at 22, shares her gripping journey of grit, teamwork, and triumph.
Bonita Norris Mount Everest

What's Stopping You? Bonita Norris is the Youngest British Female to Climb Everest

Have you ever wanted to achieve a goal, but stopped yourself before you started? It’s all too easy to let excuses shatter our dreams. But I’m hoping today’s episode inspires you to reignite that passion. Whether it’s to go for that promotion, embark on a new training programme or simply reach that project milestone, I strongly recommend you listen to the extraordinary story of Bonita Norris.

As the former youngest British woman to have summited Mount Everest, her journey is filled with stories of perseverance, teamwork, and incredible determination. This article is a summary of our conversation.

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Contents

  1. Bonita's Background

  2. Goal Setting and Planning

  3. Funding the Everest Expedition

  4. Training and Preparation

  5. Assembling the Team

  6. The Expedition

  7. The Summit Moment

  8. Lessons Learned

  9. Life After Everest

  10. About Bonita Norris

🌟 Bonita's Background

Bonita Norris grew up far from the world's most majestic peaks. In fact, her parents were anything but outdoorsy. Their idea of outdoor fun was a week by a swimming pool in August. Even with such an environment, Bonita's encounters with mountains during school trips ignited a passion she couldn't ignore.

In Year Six, a week-long trip to Rossigualia in Wales gave her a first taste of mountain life. At fourteen, a school ski trip left her in tears, overwhelmed by the beauty and challenge of the mountains. These early experiences were just glimpses, but they planted a seed that would come to define her.

Bonita Norris Speaking

The real turning point came at the age of 20 when Bonita attended a university lecture on mountaineering. Inspired by tales of climbing Everest and seeing its summit with her own eyes, she left the room determined to turn her life upside down and reach the top of the world.

📈 Goal Setting and Planning

Setting a crystal-clear goal was the first step. For Bonita, it was simple: stand on the summit of Mount Everest. The vision required detailed planning and a step-by-step approach to develop the necessary skills.

She planned backwards from the summit, first identifying the skills and experience she would need. This involved acquiring climbing gear, taking beginners' climbing courses, and selecting appropriate stepping-stone peaks to build her skills incrementally. Each milestone she reached brought her a step closer to her ultimate goal.

💸 Funding the Everest Expedition

Climbing Everest is not just a physical challenge; it's a financial one too. Bonita needed £50,000 to finance her expedition in 2010. As a recent university graduate with minimal savings, this seemed an almost impossible task.

Bonita wasn't deterred. She created a sponsorship brochure using Microsoft Word, highlighting the media attention her attempt would make, and reached out to dozens of companies. The initial response was disheartening, but she persevered, cold-calling companies and learning how to pitch her dream more effectively.

The breakthrough came serendipitously. After a radio interview on Capital FM's breakfast show caught the attention of Vocalink, they decided to sponsor her fully. Bonita finally had the funding she needed, thanks to her determination and a bit of luck.

🏋️‍♀️ Training and Preparation

Bonita Norris Climbing

Preparing for Everest required extensive training and conditioning. Without a big budget for fancy gyms or altitude centres, Bonita relied on running to build her endurance and recovery ability. Running long distances day after day honed her endurance, while off-road running helped her develop agility and navigate obstacles effectively.

Bonita also spent as much time as possible in the mountains practicing specific skills. These included understanding her equipment, figuring out her body’s reaction to different conditions, and developing efficient routines for essential mountain activities.

An interesting and unorthodox aspect of her training was her regular blood donations. Bonita believes that giving blood, and the resulting increased production of red blood cells, helped her acclimatize faster when faced with Everest's extreme altitudes.

👨‍👩‍👧 Assembling the Team

A key part of Bonita's successful climb was her team. While she didn't have the luxury to pick her teammates, she swiftly learned to trust her instincts. Her teams were formed from experienced climbers and guides who shared her commitment.

Two crucial qualities stood out among her team members: thoughtfulness and curiosity. Thoughtfulness was about looking out for each other in small but significant ways, like having a hot drink ready for a returning climber. Leaders like Rob Cassidy inspired everyone by demonstrating how small acts of thoughtfulness could boost team morale and safety.

Curiosity manifested as a willingness to learn from anyone at any time, regardless of their experience level. Great communication and thoroughly practiced systems also played a vital role, ensuring everyone knew exactly what to do in any situation.

🏔️ The Expedition

Bonita's Everest expedition was a two-month journey. Upon reaching Nepal, the team spent ten days trekking to base camp, followed by a carefully planned acclimatization schedule. This rotation process, moving up and down the mountain to allow their bodies to adapt, was physically and mentally grueling but essential for survival at high altitudes.

The team waited for the right weather window, a rare calm in the harsh jet stream winds that allowed climbers to make their summit bids. Understanding these intricacies and the poetry of weather systems moving to create this opportunity was a fascinating part of the adventure.

🏅 The Summit Moment

Bonita Norris on summit of Mount Everest

Reaching the top of Everest brought a wave of conflicting emotions for Bonita. Relief was her predominant feeling, a release from all the doubts and fears that had plagued her during the climb. But disbelief also tempered her joy.

The summit was cloud-covered, denying her the hoped-for view of the Earth's curvature. Yet at that moment, it didn’t matter. The achievement itself was monumental. Every step, every challenge faced, and every doubt overcome culminated in those precious minutes at the world’s highest point.

However, the real journey was far from over. Survival meant focusing more on her descent than celebrating the summit. The true victory was returning safely to base camp, marking the completion of her mission.

🎓 Lessons Learned

Bonita Norris

Bonita's Everest experience taught her numerous life lessons. Firstly, it reinforced the importance of staying present and appreciating every step of the journey. The summit, significant as it was, represented just a fraction of the entire experience.

Unexpected moments offered immense pride and fulfillment, moments shared with her team far below the peak. Being constantly mindful of the hidden dangers and complacency that can lead to accidents was another critical lesson learned.

The collective resilience and unwavering support of her team played a crucial role in her success. They were her lifeline, proving that great accomplishments are rarely achieved alone.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Life After Everest

These days, Bonita finds a new balance between mountaineering and family life. With two young children, her focus has shifted from scaling the world's peaks to sharing her wisdom and experiences through public speaking and motivational talks.

Yet the mountains still call to her. Bonita has future expedition plans in mind, patiently waiting for her children to grow up so she can once again tackle the heights that she loves so much.

Bonita Norris’ journey is more than a tale of reaching the top of Everest; it’s about setting goals, overcoming obstacles, and appreciating every moment of the journey. Her story serves as an inspiration to many, proving that with determination, even the grandest dreams can be achieved.

Bonita Norris

Bonita Norris is the youngest person ever to reach both the summit of Mount Everest and the North Pole.

She has successfully climbed multiple 8,000m peaks including - Everest (8,849m), Lhotse (8,516m), Manaslu (8,163m) and attempted to become the first British woman to successfully climb K2 (8,611m).

In just two years, Bonita went from having never climbed to becoming the youngest British woman to ever climb Mount Everest. She now speaks for the world’s largest corporations - inspiring teams how to Make Impossible - Possible by recounting her electrifying journey from an average 20 year old girl from a town in England to a record-breaking Himalayan high altitude mountaineer.

Bonita’s keynote speech - ‘Mountains of the Mind’ helps galvanise and motivate teams to achieve their seemingly impossible goals through the delivery key lessons on topics such as teamwork, courage, resilience and mindset.

Connect with Bonita:

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