Everest 2010: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?


Finland is usually associated with Nordic sports like ski jumping and cross country skiing. Now Anne-Mari Hyryläinen wants to make history by being the first Finnish woman to summit Everest.

An accomplished marathoner, she saw Mount Everest for the first timewhile bicycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu. She stopped at the north sidebase camp and the dream was born.

Her training has taken her to Europe and Asia. She has trained on Mount Blanc(traverse, Goutier 3-summits route) and several 6/7000 meter high peaksin Nepal (incl. Tukuche Peak, Chulu West, Kang Guru).

She currently lives in Dubai with her husband, so the cold and harshweather of Everest may be a welcome change from the heat and sand ofthe desert! While training for marathons she experiences the hardshipsof the coldest of conditions which is excellent preparation for Everest.

Anne-Mari explains:

Marathon is a very challenging sport requiring highlevel of performance over an extended period of time. It is the verycharacter and the challenges of this sport that make it so interesting.Good performance requires hard and persistent training and well-plannedpreparations; Plenty of fluids, right kind of nutrition etc.

When the time comes for Everest I’ll be in top shape physically.Hard training and the competition season guarantees strong basicstamina. During February and March I will concentrate fully on Everest.Sure there will be minor competitions to attend to till departure butthe Dubai Marathon was the main event for this season. Soon speedtraining will be replaced by running stairs in order to buildendurance. We live on the 32nd floor which will guarantee breaking asweat whenever coming from or going to home.

She will not be alone on Everest with her goal. Her fellowcountrywoman, Carina Räihä, is also trying to be the first Finnishwoman to summit Everest. Only eight Fins have summited Everest, allwere men. And of course the most famous is Veikka Gustafsson who wenton to summit all the 14 mountains over 8000 meters without supplementaloxygen.

Anne-Marie took a moment from her training to talk about her goal.

Q: Please tell us why Everest is an important goal for you?

Because I would like to be the first Finnish woman to summitEverest.  It would be a honor to make some Finnish climbing history.For the very first time when I saw Everest with my own eyes was on ahoneymoon bicycling trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Along the way wevisited Everest Base Camp, North side. Seeing Everest and many other8000ers gave me a sparkle of motivation to actually one day climb thesegiants. It was clear that Everest would have to be among the firstones. I also believe that it is easier to get sponsors if you areclimbing Everest instead of some order 8000ers peaks. But I was wrong.

Q: Have you consulted with your famous country climber, Veikka Gustafsson?

Unfortunately not. Veikka is very much my idol and it would be verynice to meet him some day.  Maybe some time when I am visiting inFinland  I like Veikkas “style” how he is doing things.

Q: Your fellow countrywoman, Carina Räihä, is also trying to bethe first Finnish woman to summit Everest. Is this a race between you?

I don’t see Carina as my competitor. Mountain climbing is no jokingmatter. I don’t like to think that mountains are a running track or aplay field. If I am unsuccessful in some running races there are alwayssome new races coming. If I am unsuccessful in mountain climbing it ispossible to risk my life. In the mountain I am focusing only on myclimbing.  But of course my goal is to be the first. My mind is verycompetitive and I hate loosing.  If we both have same day summit pushof course then I try to be first on the top.

Q: How was your training climbs in Nepal this past Fall. What were your keys lessons from the climbs you will apply on Everest?

I have been climbing in Nepal now three times: Chulu West, Kang Guruand Tukuche Peak. In every expedition I have been learning many newthings, especially in Kang Guru Expedition 2008.  It is more safer andeasier if you are a strong climber. I have learned that for Everest onehas to be in top shape physically, mentally strong and also a fastclimber. Never lose your focus. It is important to understand your ownbody and to know how it works under stress.

Q: Can you talk about how you mentally train for marathons and how you will use that on Everest?

I put myself a certain target and then focus on that. I have astrong discipline and I always tell myself that “ never giveup”. Competitions are great mental training also for Everest. When I amrunning competitions I have to forget all the pains in the body andfocus on grossing the finish line. However, I need to respect themarathon distance (42.195 km) and to know my own limits. But I cannotbe afraid! It is the same with Everest.  I am absolutely passionateabout sports and enjoy testing my own physical and mental boundariesand pushing them further and further whenever possible.

Q: Any fears about the climb?

I do not have any fears about the climb. I love it! But having saidthat, I have a great respect for the mountains. I really to hope thatChomolangma gives me an opportunity to summit this year!

Q: You are filming a documentary about your climb. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Sky Climbers team: Jussi Juutinen (climber, cameraman),Anne-Mari Hyryläinen (climber), Lhakpa Sherpa (climber, cameraman,group sherpa), Jani Einolander (editor in B.C.) and Tuukka Kouri is thedirector of the documentary is filming the entire Everest expeditioninto a documentary film “Sky Climbers – The Journey to Everest”.

The film will follow Sky Climbers team from the early preparationsto the slopes of Everest covering training seasons, the challenges ofmountaineering and the local Sherpa culture. The film will inspect themental and physical aspects of mountaineering and ponder on thequestions “why climb mountains?” and “what makes people travelvoluntarily into dangerous and extreme environments?”

Q: Any other thoughts for your followers this year?

I am hoping in the future that I can climb more mountains and to beable to develop on that. Definitely I am back in running and trainingafter Everest, maybe some ultra run in the future.

We wish Ann-Mari, her team and Carina all the best on their expeditions. She will be climbing with Phil Crampton's Altitude Junkies. You can follow her at her site.

Climb On!

Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. You can read more on his site