The Record Setting Women of Everest. #10 for Lhakpa Sherpa and 18 year old American Lucy Westlake Summits at Sunrise

With clear skies, low winds and warm temperatures, Lhakpa Sherpa just made her 10th ascent of Mount Everest, the most for any woman. Like her male counterpart Kami Rita Sherpa on 26 ascents, she just keeps breaking her own record.

Lhakpa Rita Sherpa – a record setting 10th time to the top of Everest.

And Lucy Westlake just became the youngest American woman to scale the peak, at just 18 years of age. An endurance athlete, triathlete and also the youngest woman to complete the U.S.’s 50 high points last year, it seems she may just be getting started.

She surpassed American Samantha Larson, who was also 18, who finished up with Everest on her way to becoming the youngest American woman to do all the 7 summits.

Melissa Arnot, with Dave Morton in Camp 1 on Makalu. Melissa holds the American record for most ascents of Everest by a woman, with 6. More impressively, her last one was done without oxygen up the North Ridge. Photo: Robert Anderson

And should you wonder who is the overall youngest woman? It was 13 year old Indian Malavath Purna who reached the summit on 25 May, 2014, admitting she didn’t even know it was a world record when she did it.

Also Indian, Santosh Yadav was the first woman to climb Everest twice, on her second ascent ascending the far more challenging and dangerous Kangshung Face in 1993, along the route I first led an expedition to in 1988 and climbed along with Paul Teare, Ed Webster and Stephen Venables.

The first woman to summit Everest of course was Junko Tabei, in 1975, who then went on to also be the first woman to ascend the Seven Summits, in 1992. At 4′ 9″ tall (145 cm.), it’s quite possible she may also hold the record for the most number of steps taken to reach the top?

The first woman to reach the top without oxygen was the indomitable New Zealander Lydia Bradey (right), in 1988, before going on to summit the mountain a further 5 times. More recently, in 2019, she guided Roxanne Vogel (left) on her international odyssey from San Francisco to the top of Everest in just 12 days. Photo: Mingma Sherpa

The fastest ascent on the South Side of Everest was made by Hong Kong Teacher Tsang Yin-Hung, in a shade under 26 hours. “When you aim high, expect high,” says the teacher, who said she was not looking to break the record, just challenge herself.

Should you fear there is just not enough time left in your life for Everest, Japanese woman Tamae Watanabe summited first at 63 years of age from the North side, then came back and did it again at 73 via the South Col, breaking her own record for the oldest woman to the top.

The Full Circle Everest team has three women members as well, Abby Dione, Rosemary Saal and Adina Scott. So while becoming the first all Black team to climb together, they could also be putting some of the first black women on top of the peak as well.

Sophia Danenberg on the summit in 2006, who like Samantha Larson, were happy to make the trip to New York to spend a night at the Ruben Museum for our Peak Experience, guiding and teaching young New Yorkers about ascending to the heights of Everest.

The first African-American and Black woman to climb Everest was Sophia Danenberg, ascending the South Col route in 2006. If Everest is the high point for many people, Sophia’s other accomplishments, if anything, put it in the pale of her continued accomplishments in business and in life.

This year, with her ascents of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri already completed in just 10 days of climbing, Norwegian Kristin Harila will soon be headed to Everest on her quest to break Nims Dai record and complete all the 8,000 meter peaks in a record setting 6 months – lets just hope the weather holds for her.

Kristin Harila – two of the the 8,000 meter peaks down, 12, including Everest to go.

And if anyone is opting to keep the noise down on Everest and their carbon footprint a bit lower by forgoing the common helicopter ride back down the Khumbu, they can make an attempt at Lizzy Hawker’s record, for running from Everest Base Camp back to Kathmandu in just 63 hours – a record that holds across both men and woman.

A few more Everest stories in my latest book, Nine Lives – Expeditions to Everest. And in French, Neuf vies – Expeditions A L’Everest, both available in print and for immediate reading, digitally. Photo: Alexander Hillary