It’s the love of mountains, the thrill of the challenge and the determination to close the gender gap that has pushed Naperville native, Lucy Westlake to the top.
“I’ve always loved the mountains since I started climbing when I was seven but recently, they’ve been getting more and more exciting they’ve been getting really big super challenging, but I love that challenge that’s what I’m in it for,” said Westlake. “Since I was seven, me and my dad have been summiting every single the highest mountain in every state.”
Now Westlake, who at 18 is already the youngest American female to summit the 50 highest peaks, is going for the Explorers Grand Slam, starting with Mount Everest in the Himalaya Mountains in Nepal. The slam includes summiting the highest peak on every continent and skiing the last degree to the North and South poles.
“I was a very adventurous girl. I was just wanting to get out and be in nature. I’ve always loved nature, so at first it was like a family adventure. Me and my brother, my mom, and my dad would all just find these high points and go do them as a family, which was super fun,” said Westlake.
In addition to trying to break records, Westlake knows she is also breaking barriers. “There’s not a lot of young people or women on the mountains. It’s really a sport dominated by older, like really strong, buff men, and that’s just kind of the stereotype. Like everyone just assumes that that’s what you have to be to climb these mountains,” said Westlake. “I’m proof that you don’t have to be. I’m a small, young girl, and most people it’s tough to prove myself in the mountains.”
In preparation, Westlake recently climbed Aconcagua in South America wtih her father, her higest peak yet. “The highest I climbed is twenty-two thousand eight hundred feet on Ankun Guangwa Aconcagua. So Everest is almost thirty thousand, so it’s a lot higher than I’ve ever been,” said Westlake. “But I also get oxygen, so I’ve never climbed with oxygen before. I’m excited to see what that’s like.”
Oxygen with be pivotal as the adventurer will be climbing at about 29,032 feet, nearly as high as an airplane can fly. “People ask me like ‘Oh are you scared, are you nervous,’ and like honestly, I’m not that scared or nervous. I’m more just excited, like so excited to go in and explore this new area of the world. I’ve never been to Nepal. I’ve never really spent time in Asia at all so I’m super excited to go over there and spend some time there,” said Westlake. “I don’t know why I was chosen to be this person, but I’m gonna make the most of it of this opportunity. I’m going to give my all physically, mentally, emotionally to this expedition, and I just trust that everything else will work itself out.”
Paying for the Trip
To help with costs, Westlake has two sponsors: Office Solution and IHealh for a GoFundMe campaign. “I feel so blessed to get this experience and I’m just gonna go over there and attack it like I have on every mountain,” said Westlake.
Westlake will leave for Nepal on April 14 and begin her attack on Mount Everest on April 18.
Naperville News 17’s Patrick Codo reports.
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