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Introducing Lydia Bradey – Icebreaker at Altitude!

“I was actually really bad at sports at school, but it is my love of the mountains and nature, as well as the people with whom I share these passions, that motivates me to explore wild places, and to climb.

In 1988, I became the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen. Twenty years later, I guided a group up Everest, reaching the summit for the second time on May 24, 2008. To date, I am still the only New Zealander to have climbed Everest without oxygen and the only New Zealand woman to have climbed it twice.

I currently live in Lake Hawea, near Wanaka with my partner Dean Staples, who is also a mountain guide. Together we hold eight ascents of Everest, and he was the first Kiwi to climb Everest from both the north (Tibetan) and the South (Nepali) sides… but I promise that we don’t talk about Everest all the time!

In late 2010, I travelled to Nepal with international guiding company Adventure Consultants to guide a group to the summit of Ama Dablam. This peak is 6956m and is referred to as the “Matterhorn of the Himalayas” due to its towering ridges and sheer faces.

Just before I left for Nepal, I was endowed with some gorgeous pieces of Icebreaker to wear on the journey. One in particular became the centre-piece of my whole Himalayan wardrobe. My GT260 Quantum Hood in Belize is singularly the most technical yet beautifully designed long sleeved top I have ever worn.

As a climber and high altitude Mountain Guide, I need to carry heavy kitbags of climbing equipment when travelling, which limits what I am able to carry as day to day wear. Yet as well as climbing some of the highest mountains in the world, I need great garments for a variety of other tasks:

In Nepal, we met with officials in the Nepalese Ministry of Tourism (and needed to look smart!), we dined out with our clients in Kathmandu, we packed loads for yaks, we trekked into the base camp at the bottom of the mountain and we drank tea in dirt-floored tea-houses. My Quantum Hood looked clean and elegant in basically any situation, even when it had brushed against the occasional yak on the trek in!

Per Thellersen from Denmark, our climbing Sherpa Sange and I made up the small advance party of three which reached the summit of Ama Dablam on November 4th 2010 in perfect weather. The following day, six others climbed to the top.

Although the members of our group were from different countries, almost everyone was wearing an Icebreaker! One of our strong Sherpa team also wore an Icebreaker, and had done so on several Everest summits, an ascent of Kanchenjunga and two ascents of Makalu, respectively the third and fifth highest peaks in the world. He surely needs a new Icebreaker!

Sherpa climbers do an incredible amount of physically intense and sometimes dangerous work at high altitude. In bitingly cold winds, they carry very heavy loads for the team and forge ahead to fix ropes for the climbers to make a safe ascent. This year the summit pyramid was hard blue ice and even after the ropes had been fixed, extreme care and strenuous work was required to climb to the top. But the view from the summit – right in the face of Everest, Barunste and Makalu – has to be one of the most amazing views in the world!”

- Lydia Bradey – Mountaineer, Mountain Guide and Motivational Speaker http://www.lydiabradey.com/

Per Thellersen climbing the steep headwall on Ama Dablam. Per Thellersen collectionAma Dablam, 6956m, Khumbu Valley, Nepal. Credit Lydia BradeySange at our Puja ceremony before climbing. Credit Lydia BradeyPer climbing between Camp 1 & 2 and then above C2 looking at its unlikely perch on the tower! Credit Lydia BradeyPer climbing between Camp 1 & 2 and then above C2 looking at its unlikely perch on the tower! Credit Lydia BradeySange, Per and Lydia summit Ama Dablam 6956m, 4 November 2010, Mt Everest and Lhotse behind. Per Thellersen collection

Adding some extras whilst working for Icebreaker

Traveling overseas for work is always a long journey.  I try to always add some extra time at the end of my work trips to experience the country I’m in.  Last year along with fellow workmates, I climbed Mt. Hood in Oregon with Darren and Craig, skied with Heidi at Mt Ruapehu, and hiked Mt. Helene’s with David.  But, the real mountain event was still missing…

New Zealand is the country of my dreams.  Especially the South Island and the Southern Alps as it is a region which offers it all in one (mountains, wild nature, the ocean, great people, wine, and good food).   In my previous trips I visited NZ in winter times only.  I did some mountain biking and hiking with Max, skiing with Heidi, but no mountaineering.  As mountain guide, I decided I would really like to experience climbing in Southern Alps.

When a meeting was set in New Zealand for March, it was clear that finally the chance was here for me.  Even though March is end of the climbing season in the Southern Alps, it was still a good chance to do some mountaineering.  Firstly I tried to find a climbing partner (or partners) within Icebreaker, but everybody had something else to do.  I decided to contact the famous guide organisation Adventure Consultants in Wanaka.  They offered me the possibility to join one of their expeditions.  Before I arrived in NZ, it was not really clear exactly what we would be doing, but all looked promising.

During my stay in Wanaka for work, I got a very positive message from Adventure Consultants “one client has booked a climbing trip to Mt. Aspiring and you can join the trip as a second (shadow) guide.”  This was wonderful news.  I spent a fantastic 5 days climbing Mt. Aspiring and Rolling Pin (small summit beside Mt. Aspiring).  We had great view from the summit of Mt. Aspiring and it took us 2 days in heavy rain to get back to the civilisation.

Now looking back I can say it was definitely one of my best times from working perspective.  And I was lucky to add some extras as usual. (Sea-kayaking, racing in the Mototapu challenge, and climbing the summit of Mt. Aspiring).

Branislav Adamec (Gabo) – General Manager, Icebreaker Eastern Europe