Naperville North High School student Lucy Westlake summited Alaska’s Denali Mountain last week, the tallest peak in North America. She and her father Rodney reached the peak together on Father’s Day, June 20. At 17 years old, she is now the youngest known woman in U.S. History to successfully climb to all 50 states’ highest points. Lucy attributed her and her father’s Denali climb to being, “a little bit crazy.”
“I feel like you have to be a little bit crazy just to be on the mountain in the first place… and then to summit you have to be a little bit crazier,” said Westlake.
Lucy said she and her father began their ascent on June 4, when they flew out from the Alaskan town of Talkeetna. They soon arrived at a base camp 7,000 feet above sea level and started the long climb to the 20,000 foot peak. They began the climb as part of a team of nine people, but due to poor weather, only Lucy and her father managed to reach the summit. Deciding how to balance safety and summiting, Lucy said, is something every climber has to do for themselves.
“Everyone’s a little bit different with their comfort level, and you really have to be true to yourself. You have to establish it beforehand and just be like, ‘yeah there are certain things that I’m not comfortable with,” she said.
Over One Hill, On To The Next
Lucy’s world record was recorded with the Highpointers Club, an adventure group for those who want to reach the highest point in every U.S. state. Now that Lucy’s done just that, she said she wants to try for the highest points on other continents: including, eventually, Mt. Everest. It’s not a cheap plan – Lucy said the average mountain climbing expedition for Denali alone can cost $9000 per person or more – but she hopes to find sponsors who can pay for her gear and travel, much like several outdoors companies sponsored her climb up Denali.
For those aspiring climbers looking to beat her record, or at least follow in her footsteps, Lucy had this advice to offer:
“I’d say, go for it, try it. That’s kind of why records are there, to motivate people to do better, and continue pushing themselves,” said Lucy.
For NCTV17, I’m David Byrnes.
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