STAND­ING STRONG

Prevention (Australia) - - Inspiring Women -

Leila Fourie, 49, climbed the high­est moun­tain in Antarc­tica

Eight years ago I took up moun­taineer­ing to counter the stress of my job as the CEO of a fi­nan­cial com­pany. The travel and soli­tude in­volved in con­quer­ing a moun­tain was just what I needed to re-en­er­gise and re-boot. In re­cent years I have climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro in Africa, Mount El­brus in Rus­sia and moun­tains in South Amer­ica, the Hi­malayas,

Peru and New Zealand.

In Jan­uary this year I went to Antarc­tica, the cold­est and windi­est con­ti­nent in the world, to climb Mount Vinson, 4,892 me­tres above sea level.

To build en­durance and fit­ness, I cross-trained 15 hours a week for six months. This in­volved do­ing long treks last­ing 6–10 hours with a heavy back­pack across hilly ter­rain, strength train­ing, cy­cling, run­ning and yoga.

I trained in a high al­ti­tude gym to sim­u­late the low oxy­gen lev­els I would be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. I also did a moun­taineer­ing course to learn how to use a rope and hitch-knot to help climb out of a crevasse after a fall.

The trip took two weeks but de­spite pain from freez­ing tem­per­a­tures and get­ting a ter­ri­ble cold and cough, I only thought about giv­ing up once. It was after an ex­haust­ing day car­ry­ing a 25kg pack up an ice as­cent of 1,200m at a 45 de­gree an­gle. But I pushed on to the next break and as we set up camp some climbers gave us a cup of hot choco­late to share be­tween my­self and my four fel­low climbers. It tasted in­cred­i­ble and spurred me on to keep go­ing.

The fi­nal climb took 12 hours at -37°C. When I reached the sum­mit,

I felt elated, re­lieved, ex­hausted and over­whelm­ing joy. Moun­taineer­ing has taught me to dig deep, per­se­vere and be­lieve in my­self. It re­minds me that I am strong and can do any­thing I set my mind to.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.