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American Climber, 18, Says Being Away From Family Was The Hardest Part

Lucy Westlake doesn’t have to wait until she graduates high school to achieve great things.

Westlake became the youngest American woman to climb Mount Everest on Thursday, reaching over 29,000 feet, the equivalent of about 18 Empire State Buildings.


Just before she graduated high school, she accomplished this extraordinary feat.

The teenager from Illinois is also the youngest woman in history to climb all 50 states. Another goal is to climb the highest mountain on all seven continents and go to the North and South Poles.

The University of Southern California incoming freshman will compete in cross-country running as part of its track and field team.

However, she is enjoying her latest achievement atop Mount Everest right now.

Westlake told ‘TODAY,’ “It was incredible. Being at the top, I couldn’t imagine that I was at the world’s top. I looked down, and there’s nothing higher, but still, I thought I would cry at the top.”

Westlake scaled Mount Everest with the help of Sherpas and a team without her family’s support.

Without her parents’ support, Westlake says, it was challenging.

She says, “They have a lot of trust in me. They do. And our faith has grown over time. My mom was more nervous about the smaller mountains when I was seven or eight than she is now because her trust has grown.”

Westlake concludes, ” I think I’ve been doing pretty well so far, since I reached the top of Everest, so I’ve learned a lot about myself and the world that way.”


Westlake says she is motivated by seeing how much she endures to raise awareness of water issues worldwide through climbing.

She said, “It’s just like pushing my limits. I want to see how far my body and mind can go. And I hope to inspire others to do the same because that’s how you figure out who you are.”