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Youngest person to complete the Three Peaks Challenge tackles seven summits

At aged 9, Adriana Brownlee was the youngest person to complete the Three Peaks Challenge in under 24 hours. She is now aiming to become the youngest woman to complete the Seven Summits challenge.

"I decided a couple of years back that I wanted to take this to a new level, and that’s when I decided to do the Seven Summits with my father. Ever since my world has flipped in a completely new and amazing way, I’m the healthiest, happiest and most motivated I have ever been and that’s all thanks to my parents for telling me to grab the bull by the horns and follow my passion of mountaineering, one which comes with danger and a pretty hefty price tag! But at the end of the day, I’m just a regular teenager, working through A levels, with a goal to conquer my dreams of successfully climbing the Seven Summits."

Where did your passion for climbing the worlds toughest mountains come from?

It probably all started at nine years old when I climbed the three peaks (Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis) with my father in 21 hours, becoming the youngest Briton to do so. I think I fell in love with the exhilaration and excitement of adventure sports and from that day I found my drive to succeed and become the best at everything I did and loved. I have my father to thank for making sure I wasn’t a regular child with an addiction to modern day technology!

A few years back I was sat at home scratching my head trying to figure out what was missing in my adolescent life, and that’s when it struck me that I needed to find something that was going to challenge me and keep me preoccupied as well as being unique, so why not the seven summits? I had already proved to myself I had the right mindset, so all I needed was dedication and training.

You’ve completed 3 successful summits of your 7 summits challenge – where do you find the dedication and determination to keep climbing?

My end goal for this challenge is to become the youngest British woman to complete the Messner Seven Summit, so to succeed, I better get a move on! The current record stands at 22, so I have 4 years in my belt. I guess also the pure excitement of knowing that I have an expedition coming up gets me pumped up enough to get up at 6am and do a hardcore 3-hour workout on Richmond park’s Star and Garter hill. I’m also incredibly lucky to have the perfect mindset for an athlete as my determination supersedes any laziness that may decide to make an appearance!

Was there an obstacle before or during the climb that made you hesitate or feel that you couldn’t continue? How did you get through it?

Where do I begin with this one? During the climb, every small thing becomes an obstacle, tying laces, drinking water, going to the toilet, making a hot drink, you name it… At altitude, your body is beginning to shut down due to a lack of oxygen so any small task suddenly becomes a huge obstacle. For example, to drink a litre of water at 6000m it takes an hour and a half just to melt the snow in a stove and then drinking itself is also a task, as the last thing you can stomach is more fluids.

A particular obstacle I remember was during a training challenge called the Welsh 3000’s (one of my least favourite things I’ve done). We ran out of water about 2 hours before the halfway point where we could pick up supplies, and it was about 20 degrees, sunny, and we were all absolutely shattered. This was one of those moments (and these happened a lot on this challenge) that I questioned why I ever signed up to this. But of course, the power of the mind is what really pushed me to carry on as I knew deep down that when I finished the challenge, I would have an overwhelming sense of achievement that no amount of water could beat...

What motivated you to challenge yourself?

I think the best way to describe the feeling of achievement is like eating your favourite cake, take one slice and it feels brilliant, finish and the feeling fades! But at the end of the day all you want is another slice, and all I want is to climb another mountain or beat another personal best on the treadmill, or be the best that I can be in whatever I am doing, whether in sport or at school. For me, what motivates me is the idea that I can be the best at what I do if I really want to and the feeling I get when it happens has become my addiction.

Do you have any other passions outside of school?

Well apart from revising for A levels and training 6 days a week, I don’t have much time for exploring other hobbies, however, when I do have time, I absolutely love cooking and of course eating...

What has mountaineering taught you beyond the skills required to get to the summit?

Each mountain brings a unique country, culture, climbing group and experience. Travelling around the world is, in my opinion, the best and most important way to learn about who we are and what is out there to explore, and without this I wouldn’t able to have interesting conversations with people from all walks of life, be it through religion, culture, economic backgrounds or just personality. Interacting and living with people in your climbing group also gives you incredible skills such as leadership, communication, confidence etc, that sometimes can be hard to learn in the modern world where many things are done for us or have been made easier with technology.

What advice would you give to other young girls looking to pursue their passion?

Firstly, it's never too early or too late to begin, no matter what anyone tells you. Find that thing you're good at, find the thing that makes you want to jump out of bed in the mornings, find that niche that makes you, YOU and own it in every possible way. Whatever your passion may be, if it makes you happy and gives you a sense of achievement or pride then that is what you were brought on this planet to do, so don’t just throw it away because someone tells you to, or an obstacle gets in the way. Just remember the world is your oyster and anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

What’s next for you?

Well, I still have four mountains to go in my challenge and so now my head is set on getting them done safely and successfully. I haven’t thought much about future challenges but I know I want to climb more mountains including K2 and Annapurna (and hopefully still with my dad)

I think after completing the seven summits, whether I be the youngest or not, it will still be something that sets me apart from many people my age and so I think using that as a platform to inspire other young people to get up and make themselves a better person is something I will be doing in the future.

To stay up to date with Adriana's climbs, check out her website and Instagram!

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