It wasn’t until she was five metres from the summit that 26-year-old Mollie Hughes realised she had made it to the top of the world’s highest mountain.
And scaling Mount Everest not once but twice, she now wants to use her experience and the publicity her world record has generated as a platform to inspire others.
Mollie, who lives in Edinburgh, discovered she had made history as the youngest British woman to scale the mountain from both sides.
“It’s been completely overwhelming,” she said.
“Reaching the top itself was overwhelming, but the main emotion is relief – because you have put so much into the project and there are so many people supporting you.
“But it is also this amazing opportunity to now try and inspire other people, especially young girls in Scotland and the UK, to believe that any ambition they have, no matter how crazy, is absolutely possible.”
Mollie’s journey to the summit of Everest began when she was studying sports psychology at Bristol University.
For her dissertation she interviewed seven mountaineers who had tackled the mountain in a bid to overcome their anxieties.
Mollie explained: “All of the climbers had different psychological experiences in the way they dealt with the fear and anxiety.
“I took what I learnt from them and tried to approach the mountain in that way.”
It was that step-by-step pragmatic approach that Mollie believes helped her achieve her goal. “I was prepared for the moment when the whole mountain was laid out in front of me so I wasn’t intimidated. I was nervous but excited.”
And she wants her message to be heard as much as possible. “I was a 20-year-old university student. I had no money and no idea how I was going to climb the mountain. It was a huge thing I had to do and somehow achieve so I broke it down into smaller goals – twice – and I want to share the message that anything is possible.”
And Chris Tiso, chief executive of Tiso Group, who sponsored Mollie’s climb, said it was wonderful to be able to continue supporting attempts to scale Everest.
“As a colleague, I am very, very proud of her; as a friend, I am more proud of her and as a fellow mountaineer, I am exceptionally proud of her.”
And although Mollie has no plans to return to Everest she is looking forward to experiencing the thrill of mountains across the world.
Mollie will speak at Napier University tonight at 6.30pm and all proceeds will be donated to Cancer Research.