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Cathy O’Dowd: Mountaineer and Motivational Speaker

Cathy O’Dowd: Mountaineer and Motivational Speaker Born on 1969 in the largest city of South Africa, Johannesburg, Cathy O’Dowd was exposed to the world of mountaineering at the tender age of 18. Her interest for climbing spurted when she joined her university’s rock climbing club, and she eventually moved to scale higher and cold-weathered mountains. Three years after getting into climbing she went on her first mountain expedition to Rwenzori, a range bordering between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While taking up Masters in Media Studies and lecturing at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, an opportunity to be part of South Africa’s first expedition to Everest came up. With over 200 female applicants for the expedition, O’Dowd became one of only two women to be sent to Everest by her country.

Journey to Everest

The first expedition of South Africa was led by Ian Woodall via the southern route, the notable route made by Sir Edmund Hillary. O’Dowd reached the summit on May 25, 1996, despite the extreme weather conditions. After two years, in 1998, O’Dowd attempted to be the first woman ever to summit Everest via the northern and southern routes, but failed when she came across Fran Arsentiev, an American climber, forcing her to turn back and come down the mountain. The following year she attempted the northern route once again, this time successful, as she reached the summit on May 29, 1999. By this time, O’Dowd had made history by climbing Everest via both northern and southern routes.

Aside from her Everest achievement, O’Dowd also made history by being the fourth woman to summit the fourth highest mountain, Lhotse. She continued climbing other peaks after the Everest and Lhotse, like El Capitan in California and even joined in the dog-sled expedition in the Norwegian Arctic.

Wife, Speaker and Writer

In 2001 O’Dowd married his First South African Everest Expedition leader Ian Woodall.

Her experience in setting goals and achieving dreams as a mountaineer has transformed her into a writer and a remarkable motivational speaker. She has given numerous talks urging individuals to set own challenging targets, be it their professional or personal lives. She has also published two books under her belt, the first entitled Everest: Free To Decide was released in 1998, followed by Just For The Love Of It in 2001.

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