Lydia grew up in Te Wai Ponamu, the South Island of New Zealand, and lives further south, in Lake Hawea.
In 1988 Lydia became the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen. To date she remains the only New Zealander to have climbed Everest without oxygen. In 2008 Lydia successfully guided Everest, reaching the summit for the second time, on 24 May, at 5am. She joins the ranks of the very few women (only 3) ever to have guided Everest, and becomes the only New Zealand woman to have climbed it twice.
In 1987 Lydia became the first Australasian woman to climb one of the world’s fourteen 8000m mountains, and has been on a total of eleven Himalayan expeditions. Her partner, Dean Staples, has also guided Mt Everest five times, in 2006 becoming the first New Zealander to climb Everest from both the north in China, and the south, Nepal.
1981-1982 Lydia spent nine months of her life in Yosemite Valley, Ca, USA, a world Mecca for ‘Aid’ climbing. She climbed 10 Big Walls (cliffs taking up to 9 days to climb), making 7 first female ascents of these amazing walls.
In 1994 Lydia completed a BHSc(Physiotherapy), in 1998 a certificate of Acupuncture, and in 2000 her Climbing Guides 1, part of the International Mountain & Ski Guide (IFMGA) qualification. She currently divides her work between mountain guiding around the world, corporate motivation-oriented presentations and at times, community-based physiotherapy.
Lydia continues to have adventures in the mountains with friends. She recently went to Pakistan with another woman climber, tried a very hard unclimbed 7000m peak and made a first ascent of another unclimbed mountain, 5800m.
Her recreational interests include design and architecture, exploring remote places, rock climbing, skiing, mountaineering and mountain guiding. Her love is nature.
Lydia enjoys imparting the ideas and philosophies developed through a wide range of experiences and wisdom gained through unusual events; and she is able to do this through giving presentations, and mountain guiding.
Often asked why she climbs mountains; Lydia describes her love of nature, the simplicity and meaningfulness of life in the outdoors and the sharing of these experiences with other people that attract her to the mountains.
High Altitude Climbing Experience
1984 Nepal: British Expedition attempted first ascent of South Face Cho-Oyu from Nepal, and attempt first female ascent. Expedition reached 8000m, Lydia 24,500ft approx. turning back because of partner’s suspected HACE, at same time expedition retreated. BBC made a documentary of the climb.
1986 India: Small trip to Himachal Pradesh, to trekking peaks, highest summit reached 18,000ft.
1986 Bhutan: British expedition to attempt the first ascent of the highest mountain in Bhutan, Ghankar Punsum, 7555m. Reached over 7200m and did some excellent climbing. A documentary was made of the climb and featured in the Banff Mountain Film Festival.
1987 India: Uttar Pradesh. Small expedition with Jon Muir (Australia) to attempt first traverse of Kedarnath Dome, Kedarnath Peak and another third un-named mountain. Storms and avalanches curtailed ascent of the latter two mountains, only Kedarnath Dome summit reached, approximately 7500m. Kedarnath Peak was descended in a storm, biggest epic of my life.
1987 Pakistan: Gasherbrum II 8035m, alpine style, three and a half days up in deep snow. Initially attempted Gasherbrum I, 8048m but extreme avalanche conditions forced most of expedition to retreat. G II was climbed at end of trip in three days, giving a total of 55 days above Base Camp. I became the first Australasian woman to climb one of the world’s fourteen 8000m mountains.
1988 Pakistan: K2 8611m attempted. High point of 7300m reached within ten days of arrival, a further five trips to 6800m and 7300m to attempt summit were thwarted by short weather windows. Three days off in Kathmandu between K2 and Everest.
1988 Nepal: Everest summit reached without O2 via South Col route, post monsoon at the end of expedition. I am the first woman in the world to climb Everest without oxygen, and to date, the only New Zealander to do so.
2004 & 2006 Tibet: Guided on Cho-Oyu 8201m for Himlayan Exeperience, expedition had 100% success.
2004 Nepal: Made a personal trip to Cholatse 6440m in the Khumbu. Short four day climbing window, bad weather and fatigue prevented us from summitting this stunning mountain. Cholatse presented beautiful classic mountaineering.
2006 Argentina & Peru: Guided Aconcagua 6959m, Alpamayo and Huascaran for Jagged Globe.
2007 Nepal: Guided Lobuche East in the Khumbu in May.
2007 Pakistan: Attempted the first ascent of an unclimbed peak Beka Brakkai Chhok 6940m, in the Karakorum, reaching 5900m. After BBC with two Italians they made the first ascent of another unclimbed peak, 5800m, they called Wahine Shar. The trip gained sponsorship from the NZ govt. SPARC, the MEF, the Shipton/Tilman (Gore) grant, and the NZAC.
2008 Nepal: Successfully guided Everest via the SE ridge/ South Col route for Adventure Consultants, reaching the summit May 24, at 5am. I joined the few women who have reached the summit of Everest twice or more.