‘Adventure has taught me so much!!….To believe in myself…. How to push myself beyond previously thought limits…. That I can achieve anything I set my mind to.’
If you were lucky enough to attend the Women’s Adventure Expo 2016, then you might have seen the lovely Mollie Hughes on our main stage sharing her experiences of adventure with us.
On the 19th May 2012 Mollie became one of the youngest British climbers to stand on top of the world when she summited Mount Everest, at the age of just 21.
It was after 18 months of sponsorship hunting (which included auctioning tattoo space on her body!) and rigorous training, that Mollie completed her challenge of summiting Mount Everest, having spent two months living in the harsh mountain environment and 18 hours climbing in the oxygen less world above 8,000m.
However, conquering the highest mountain in the world just once isn’t enough for this lady. In Spring 2017 Mollie is planning to return to Mount Everest to attempt to summit from the North side via Tibet. If successful, this will make her the Youngest Briton to climb Everest from both sides at the age of only 26 and will also make her the First English Woman to summit from both sides.
With achievements like this it would be rude not to find out more about this inspiring and motivating lady and what drives her. So Women’s Adventure Expo has done just that. Here’s what we found out……..
Mollie, thank you so much for supporting us at Women’s Adventure Expo. Your enthusiasm and motivation is inspiring to so many of us. What does it mean to you, to be able to fill your life with adventure?
I think it is actually the most important thing in my life. I have never been particularly motivated by money or a big career and honestly the idea of things like mortgages scare the hell out of me! I feel so lucky that I have worked out at a young age the important things to me; adventure, travelling the world, climbing mountains, enjoying life! I believe I have learnt so much more from these adventures than I ever would of chasing a career.
So, what’s the best adventure you’ve had in the last 18 months?
Since I was a teenager almost every year I would head off on expeditions to far-flung mountain ranges across the world, but for the last 18 months the majority of my adventures have been here in the UK. Two years ago I moved to Scotland from London, so I have been spending as much time as possible exploring this incredible place I now call home. And wow! There is so much on offer up here. Within a few hours drive from my home in Edinburgh I can surf great waves off of the east coast, I can ski at one of Scotland’s five ski resorts, I bag countless Munro’s, I can rock-climb, I can ice-climb, I can mountain bike and much more. So that has all been keeping me fairly busy over the last 18 months, but I am itching to head off again and climb something bigger than a Munro.
What does it feel like when you complete a challenge or project?
Of course it feels brilliant to complete any challenge, it is always a relief when it works out, you manage to summit and get back down again safely. But there is always also a certain amount of post-expedition blues. Usually when you have been back a couple of weeks, finished celebrating and back to normality. That is usually the best time to start planning your next adventure!
So, what is the next big adventure?
For a few years now I have been planning on returning to Mount Everest to climb it from the North Side via Tibet. In 2012 I summited from the South side, which was a tough expedition but a total honour to finally reach the top. 2017 is still very much sponsorship depending, but if I am successful in raising the funds and on the mountain, I will be the youngest British person to summit Everest from both sides at the age of 26.
Wow, that will be fantastic and what a sense of achievement. So for you, what does adventure bring that enriches your soul and makes you happy?
I think the main thing is that connection with nature. There is nothing better for your soul than watching the sun rise or set while on the side of a mountain. Nature is so much stronger, more powerful and more beautiful than us and this is easy to forget when you live life in the city.
You are clearly a motivated and driven person but what is ‘enough’ for you in life?
Enough adventure? Never! I can’t ever imagine thinking, ‘okay, I have now climbed enough mountains….’ I reckon I will still be hobbling up Munro’s (or at least a small hill…) when I am 85!
What are you doing for yourself right now, which is just to improve your adventure?
Training for adventure is very important to me. I spend a lot of time in the gym or training outside to be in the best shape possible ahead of an adventure. At the moment I am training for Everest next spring but also for a good Scottish winter climbing season. Adventure and expeditions are so much more enjoyable if you are physically and mentally fit to deal with the demands.
Obviously, here at Women’s Adventure Expo we want to inspire and encourage women to get out there and have their own adventures. What do you think makes women feel more confident about planning their own adventure?
Seeing that other women have achieved the same or a similar thing before you. Before I climbed Mount Everest in 2012 I wrote my dissertation on the ‘Psychology of climbing Mount Everest’. For this project I interviewed 7 men who had all summited over the last 10 years. This project inspired me to have a go at summiting Everest myself, but it wasn’t until I researched and read accounts of women’s success on the mountain that I really believed it was something I could succeed at.
Fear seems to be a common reason for people, especially women, to not take on the challenge of an adventure. Fear of failure, fear of ‘neglecting’ their families, fear of being judged to name but a few. When was the last time fear stopped you from doing something you wanted to do? And how do you deal with fear when you are on adventure?
Fear is a huge thing in adventure and something I like to cover extensively in my talks. You have the pre-adventure fear, the thoughts that you might not succeed or you might get injured, and you have the during-adventure fear, the physical and mental reaction to the situation you are in. In my presentation’s I discuss how I learnt to control fear on Everest, through understanding that fear is just a natural emotional response to a potentially dangerous situation.
Recently I have felt a lot of fear with a new sport. I am currently learning to speed-fly, this is similar to paragliding but on a much smaller wing and at much higher speeds! I basically have a mental freak-out every time I am about to launch… do I want to do it, do I not want to, am I going to crash and get really hurt (I did do this once…) but, as of yet, I haven’t let this fear stop me from launching. As soon as I am in the air and flying, all of that fear disappears and I am so focused on what I am doing and thinking about getting the landing right. I think (and am hoping!) that the more I do it and overcome the fear, the more the pre-flight freak-out will reduce!
What are the three biggest lessons adventure has taught you?
Adventure has taught me so much!!
1) To believe in myself – Growing up I was always pretty shy and under confident. But achieving and succeeding in adventure has changed me, self-belief is definitely increased by the more we do and the more we achieve.
2) How to push myself beyond previously thought limits – I always thought my physical and mental limits would stop me from achieving things, but I haven’t yet reached these limits during an expedition.
3) That I can achieve anything I set my mind to –Even if something seems impossible I know that if I put enough effort in and really have a ‘want to achieve it’, I can.
And finally, what do you think are the 2 most powerful things a woman can accept about herself?
There is only one- that you are capable of achieving anything.
Thank you so much Mollie for taking the time to answer our questions. Good luck for 2017, we hope you achieve all of your hopes and dreams. Please come back and tell us all about them.
We think you’ll agree that Mollie is a true inspiration to us all and her closing words ‘…you are capable of achieving anything’ are ones that we should all remember when we begin to doubt ourselves and our capabilities. So ladies, take inspiration from Mollie and get out there and get planning that adventure, BIG or small.