‘It changed my life’: Louisville teen sets records climbing Mount Everest
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - More than 5,000 people have made the nearly impossible climb to the top of Mount Everest.
No one describes the moment with more wonder and enthusiasm than 18-year-old Lucy Westlake.
“You have your oxygen mask on, you’re wearing this huge jacket, it looks like just glaciers everywhere,” Westlake said. “When we summited, we summited an hour after sunrise, so it was just beautiful. The sun had risen and all the mountain peaks were kind of like glowing pink. And there was like a lot of low clouds and they’re just towering out of these clouds.”
“There’s so many beautiful mountains in the Himalayas,” Westlake added. “There’s just peaks all around us. And that was just gorgeous.”
In May, Westlake became the youngest American woman to reach the summit of Everest.
She commented on her journey while visiting Louisville, where she spent most of her younger years and now supports the nonprofit WaterStep.
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Westlake said the challenge of climbing Everest ranks second only to her other passion of bringing clean water to remote corners of the world.
“I feel like mountaineering can be related to almost any aspect of life,” she said. “It’s so relatable to everything. And yeah, this (clean water effort) is definitely a big mountain, but probably even bigger than Everest, but it’s climbable. It is.”
At age 12, Westlake joined with WaterStep to deliver equipment to her pen pal’s village in Uganda. She saw what clean water means to quality of life.
“It changed my life,” Westlake said. “Really, like seeing how access to safe water completely changed everyone’s life. They didn’t have to walk miles in miles, they weren’t afraid of getting sick from the water. Like that, it just opened up so many other things they can do especially for the women and children who have to go and walk and actually get the water.”
With Everest now on her resume, Westlake still has more mountains to climb. She’s hoping other young women will follow.
“I hope to inspire other people to try and break my record,” Westlake said. “I mean, it’s no fun if no one ever tries to break your record right? It doesn’t mean much of that happens. So I really hope more young women get into mountains.”
Westlake now wants to become the youngest ever to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam. That requires climbing the highest mountain on every continent and going to both the North and South Poles.
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