Banker is first SA woman to claim ‘Seven Summits’ achievement

2010-05-25 00:00

IT was not only in the rugby and cricket arenas that South Africans triumphed at the weekend. Nine South Africans quietly reached the world’s highest mountain peak, Everest, with at least two of them making history in the process.

Mandy Ramsden, a Johannesburg banker who conquered Everest from the southern side on Saturday morning, became the first South African woman to climb the highest mountain peaks on all seven continents successfully.

Sean Disney became the first South African to achieve that feat twice.

In the run-up to the weekend, there were nearly 100 climbers altogether on their way to the top.

Following bad weather earlier last week, the climbers welcomed the weekend with open arms as it brought ideal climbing conditions, said Jenny Paterson, spokesperson for the Adventure Dynamics International (ADI) expedition group, yesterday.

“Light snow with not even a breeze and even a bit of sunshine gave both groups the chance of reaching the top,” she said.

Ramsden was part of a New Zealand group sponsored by Adventure Consultants. For another South African climbing with her, Tony Hampson-Tindale of Johannesburg, Everest was his sixth of the seven highest peaks.

On Sunday morning Louis Carstens, the third South African in a third group, and also from Johannesburg, reached the peak.

The ADI group was under the experienced leadership of Disney, a Johannesburg expedition leader and guide.

Another seven South Africans were with him initially, but two of them had to withdraw because of altitude sickness.

Disney and five of his fellow South African climbers conquered Everest at about 7.15 am on Sunday in “beautiful” weather. They are Barend Engelbrecht (formerly from Pretoria, but now living in England), Ben Swart of Pretoria, and Arthur Marsden, Lance Metz and Vaughan de la Harpe from Johannesburg.

According to Paterson, seven of the group’s Sherpa guides also reached the top. Most of the climbers would never have made it without them, and they allow the Sherpas to climb to the peak with them to ensure better work references for them in the future.

Disney’s group had by yesterday morning descended to 8 300 metres — a fair distance lower than the 8 850 metres of the highest peak.

“They are healthy, but just very tired,” said Paterson.

The team members climbed several of the seven peaks in preparation for Everest, including Mount Vinson in Antarctica where they completed the last section to the South Pole on skis.

Further details about Disney’s group are available at

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