AN EDINBURGH shop worker was “elated and exhausted” yesterday after becoming the youngest Briton to scale both the north and south faces of Everest.
At 26, Mollie Hughes is also the youngest European woman and first English female to complete the feat.
Born in Devon, she works for capital-based outdoor specialist Tiso, which sponsored her record-breaking adventure.
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Hughes, who summited the south side of Everest from the south side at the age of 21, completed the north ascent at 5.30am local time in Nepal yesterday. The time difference means friends and family in Scotland and England were still sleeping when she reached the top at 1.15am GMT.
In a short message home from the top of the world, Hughes said: “I am elated, exhausted and know I still have the hardest part to do – the long and difficult descent to base camp.”
Hughes, originally from Torbay, is 28 years younger than Northern Ireland’s Lynne Hannah, who became the first British woman to achieve both ascents at the age of 54 in 2016.
Hughes reached the peak with climbing partner John Gupta, of guiding firm Mountain Expeditions, after a four-week climb up 8,848m in temperatures as low as -40°C.
In clips posted online during the hike the pair play Britney Spears songs in their tent and tested their mental alertness at altitude with a Rubik’s Cube.
Now expected home in early June, they began the final stage of the during a break in the weather and Hughes, who hopes to raise £8,000 for Cancer Research UK, said: “The climbing has been really, really hard but our mental and physical strength got us up here.
“I can confirm that the north side is definitely more difficult than the south side.
“I am really proud to be the youngest Briton to have scaled Everest from both sides. Now we’ll focus on achieving a safe descent from the top of the world.”