Naperville native Lucy Westlake has become the youngest American woman to summit Mount Everest.
The 18-year-old reached the top on May 12 at 5:36 a.m. Nepali time. Samantha Larson of Long Beach, CA had been the previous record holder, reaching the peak almost 15 years to the day before Westlake. Larson was 18 years, 7 months and 9 days old when she summited Everest on May 16, 2007. Westlake has now set the new record at 18 years, 6 months and 8 days old.
“There were some mental and physical challenges along the way, but overall, I felt great all the way to the top and back down,” said Westlake in a press release. “Supplemental oxygen high on the mountain sure makes a difference.”
Rapid Pace Up Everest
Westlake told NCTV17 before she headed off to Nepal that she was taking on the challenge in the hopes of inspiring young girls and women, showing them that a woman could excel in a sport typically dominated by men. And excel she did. Westlake began her climb on April 18, and reached the top much faster than the typical time of 45 to 60 days.
“I came into the climb well acclimated as I had spent the past five weeks training with some of the best distance runners in the world in the highlands of Kenya at 7,000 feet. I am a distance runner as well, so my fitness level helps to endure the long, difficult days on the mountain,” said Westlake. “I also have a lot of experience climbing, so the challenges of Everest felt familiar.”
Westlake got some help with her quest from Grape-Nuts cereal, which gave her a $12,500 grant. She was one of nine women to get such a grant added into her GoFundMe, which was part of the brand’s initiative to help fuel exploration in celebration of its 125th anniversary.
Previous Records She’s Set
Exploration, and setting records is nothing new for Westlake. When she was 12, she became the youngest female to reach the summit of the highest points in the lower 48 U.S. states. Then at 17, she made it to the top of Denali, setting another record as the youngest female to climb the high points of all 50 states. That was on June 20, 2021.
Less than a year later, she can now claim to have climbed five of the seven highest mountains on each continent, and she’s got her sights set on the other two. Next up will be the Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea and Mount Vinson in Antarctica. But she isn’t stopping there: her goal is to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, which includes climbing those seven highest peaks, as well as skiing the last degree to the North and South Poles.
Off To College
Westlake is also set to start preparing for a new adventure: college. She graduated early from Naperville North High School on December 21, 2021, and heads to the University of Southern California this August. She’ll be attending on a track and field scholarship.
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.
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