Daily Mail

From Everest to seabed, UK explorer’s world-first

Record feat as ex-banker hits Earth’s highest and lowest spots


A BRITISH adventurer has gone to the ends of the Earth to become the first woman to reach the planet’s highest and lowest points.

After scaling 29,029ft Mount Everest in 2012, Vanessa O’Brien has now dived down 35,843ft in the western Pacific to Challenger Deep – a double feat ratified by Guinness World Records.

Her voyage to the bottom of the ocean last week saw the former banker, 55, spend three hours in the Mariana Trench, longer than any woman, with her craft under up to eight tons of pressure per square inch.

Miss O’Brien, who has dual British and American citizenshi­p, said there were parallels between the Everest and Mariana Deep challenges, adding: ‘The journey to the bottom takes four hours... it’s a hard place to get to.

‘It may sound funny, but I found the experience­s very similar. Oxygen is in short supply, you’re sitting for hours or standing, you’re climbing or moving very slowly, and they both have that “summit” moment – the top or the bottom.’

With submersibl­e pilot Victor Vescovo, Miss O’Brien’s dive surveyed a mile of the eastern pool of Challenger Deep.

They were crammed in a 5ft titanium sphere inside the submersibl­e Limiting Factor, which has just three portholes.

The vessel and its mother ship cost nearly £40million to build. Submersibl­e passengers are normally charged around £ 600,000, although Miss O’Brien is thought to have paid less.

She is the second woman to reach Challenger Deep after astronaut Kathy Sullivan, part of the same team, days before. Miss O’Brien, who took a Royal Navy ensign on the descent, said: ‘All the key players outside of Victor were women.’

She became the first British or US woman to climb K2, the world’s second-highest peak, in 2017 and has climbed the highest peak in every continent faster than any woman, taking 295 days. She has also skied to the North Pole and the South Pole and climbed five peaks over 8,000m (26,247ft). She hopes her dive will inspire other women to take on such challenges, adding: ‘It’s endurance, not upper body strength or anything physical. It’s almost 70 per cent mental. I’ve always found women are really good at endurance.’

Miss O’Brien, who quit her 20year banking career to focus on adventures in 2010, said not having children let her take on new challenges, adding: ‘I’ve sacrificed the luxuries like having new stuff or going on a fabulous holiday.’

‘Women are really good at endurance’

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom