HITTING THE HEIGHTS
Di Westaway, 58, did the world’s highest handstand in the Himalayas
“At almost 40, I was a worn-out mother of three children when a friend’s personal trainer invited me to join a climb of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere. I hoped it would just make me fitter but it transformed my entire life. I realised that wild adventures made me feel vital, purposeful and more alive.
Several years later I founded Wild Women on Top, to inspire women to undertake physical challenges. And along with them, I have kept on challenging myself, taking on difficult hikes, treks and mountain climbs.
My biggest challenge was doing the world’s highest handstand at 6,982 metres on the summit of Mount Ama Dablam in the Everest region of
Nepal. The challenge took five weeks, which included trekking, making acclimatisation climbs and sleeping on the side of Himalayan mountains in tiny tents – sometimes in blizzards.
Mount Ama Dablam is a very steep, rocky ice peak so lots of rock climbing was involved, which I found exhilarating. But the night before we headed out for the summit I was exhausted, and perched dangerously on the mountainside I texted my buddy Danae back in Australia saying I wanted to quit. She said “Control your mind, Di.” And I did.
I felt like I was doing it for the girls.
After struggling to the summit, it took all my strength to hold a handstand while wearing 10kg of gear. But it felt great to be there.
The descent was also challenging because I couldn’t see the icy ground.
Once I got back to base camp I felt absolutely elated. When you challenge yourself against nature, you develop an empowering mental tenacity. Every physical feat makes me stronger, more confident and more resilient.”