Two Greek female mountain climbers are set to “conquer” the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. The expedition is scheduled to start on April 5, 2019. Vanessa Archontidou and Christina Flambouri will embark on their toughest challenge, reach the highest peak of Mount Everest at 8,848 metres above sea level, and plant a Greek flag on the “Roof of the World”.
Mother-of-two Vanessa Archontidou and her team mate Christina Flambouri have so far reached the summit of the highest mountains on five continents and ultimately aim to complete the Seven Summits challenge, scaling the highest peaks of all seven continents of the world.
Speaking to Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), Archontidou said the expedition had faced some of its greatest difficulties before it had even begun, since finding sponsors to finance their attempt had been a major hurdle.
“In Greece, even Olympic champions have difficulty finding support; this is even more true of us, who are not professional athletes but two ordinary women with an unusual dream…” she said. Talking about what motivates them to take on the highest mountains, the two women replied: “We climb mountains because this is what makes us happy and inspires us and gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning with excitement. Each person must search and find this reason for themselves because only then can they feel complete,” they said.
The task was far from easy, however, and its success demanded a high degree of organisation, patience and persistence, as well as money, they added.
Their journey will start in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. From there, the two women will make a journey of a few days to the Everest basecamp at 5,500 metres, where they will stay for at least a month as their bodies adjust to the high altitude, and their expedition to scale the mountain will start in mid-May.
“Apart from good physical fitness, it will require great mental fortitude since we will be far from home and our loved ones for roughly two months. As regards the danger, a high mountain certainly demands respect…the weather, a good assessment of our strength at any given time, care to avoid accidents are factors that require especial attention,” they noted.
“At higher altitudes, our body needs more energy, the air has less oxygen and breathing is hard, so every step is a minor feat. Above a certain point, of course, our body is truly suffering and for this reason the zone above 8000 metres is called the ‘death zone’,” the two mountain climbers said.
In their case, they intend to enlist the aid of an oxygen tank to assist them in making it to the top, they added.
The entire expedition, including their 7summits goal, is supported by the non-profit organisation “A woman can be” but the two women stressed that the 7summits goal also had a greater symbolic significance: “We all live on a beautiful planet, there is nothing to divide us and we all have hopes and dreams for a better future.”
The message they hope to send to all people, they said, was to not give up personal dreams and hopes under the pressure of professional or family obligations, to love nature and life-long exercise and to work with solidarity to fulfil not just needs and also “the dreams that inspire us.”
In pursuit of this goal, they were also the first Greek women to set foot on Mt Dinali, also known as Mt McKinley, the highest peak in Alaska.
So far, Archontidou and Flambouri have managed to reach the peak of Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest mountain of South America at 6,962 metres, Elbrus in Europe (5,642 metres), Mt Denali in North America (6,190 metres), the Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 metres), the highest mountain of Oceania in Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres) in Africa.