Jo Bradshaw: One step closer to the 7 Summits

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Jo Bradshaw: One step closer to the 7 Summits

19 Jul 2017
The Seven Summits: the highest peaks on each continent. Fewer than 500 people have climbed all of them and, of those, just 9 British women have managed it.

Jo Bradshaw

Well, last month, with her success on Denali, Jo Bradshaw came a step closer to being the 10th.

Her first came in 2008 with Africa’s highest: Kilimanjaro. South America’s Aconcagua followed at the end of 2011, then came Elbrus, on the eastern fringe of Europe, in the summer of 2015. She was at Camp One on Everest when the tragic earthquake struck in April 2015, but she returned a year later to successfully gain the highest point in Asia (and, of course, the world).

When this journey began, it wasn’t about the Seven Summits. In fact, to begin with she had no intention of climbing Everest. She was climbing each mountain in its own right…and to an extent of course, she still is. They each present their own unique challenges, they each have their own unique personalities, but now the challenge of the Seven is definitely on!

This June, it was North America’s turn, in the shape of Denali, in southern Alaska. A very different beast from Everest. While climbers still need – of course – to be a team, those teams must themselves be more independent: carrying more, hauling loads in pulks, and being prepared to sit and wait out the weather.

“…it’s all about the raw nature of the environment and the need for self-sufficiency. No Sherpa support, no teahouses, no Tanzanian crew, no Pablo at Plaza de Mulas cooking incredible meals. It’s you, your teammates and the mountain, brilliant.”

There was the typical Alaskan mountain frustration to contend with: the “Will we…won’t we…” and the “Oh. Weather. Not today then.” There was also the rather less typical frustration of carrying an extra 5kg canister of what was assumed to be fuel…but which turned out to be full of human waste. And there was of course the constant need for sheer human fitness: all her training with dragging a tyre started to pay dividends.

Then, on 20th June – a year, a month and a day after standing on the summit of Everest – she reached the high point of North America. On Everest, her PHD gear “saved her arse” (thanks Jo)…so when she was planning Denali, she got in touch with us again. She was interested in being able to layer up, to make her insulation more versatile, to suit changing conditions and future trips. So, when she set off for the summit, she did so in her Minimus Pullover and Rondoy Trousers, with a Svalbard Jacket to pull on over the top when she stopped: a set up she described as “bomb proof”.

Australasia’s Carstenz Pyramid is on the cards for this autumn, then there’s just a little jaunt to 78° south: to Antarctica, and Mount Vinson. And that will be all seven!

Don’t let all this give you the impression that she’s ‘only’ climbed 5 mountains though: she’s pretty much constantly climbing, hiking and biking. And when she’s not, she’s helping others do the same, whether it’s leading climbers in the mountains around the world, or assessing D of E groups in the UK.

And the Seven Summits isn’t just a personal project for Jo either. Through sponsorship, these climbs raise thousands and thousands of pounds – and much needed awareness – for Place2Be, the children’s mental health charity. So, on that very important note, we’ll give her the last word:

“Everyone has bad days, some have bad weeks, a few have bad years, everyone needs some mental health support … By supporting and promoting mental health issues we are, in my humble opinion, making a stronger nation with stronger children for a stronger future.”

It’s all about the raw nature of the environment and the need for self-sufficiency. No Sherpa support, no teahouses, no Tanzanian crew, no Pablo at Plaza de Mulas cooking incredible meals. It’s you, your teammates and the mountain, brilliant.
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