Lydia Bradley – Starting from the Bottom

Lydia Bradey is not a name you may be familiar with. Yet, Lydia is a celebrated New Zealand mountaineer. She became the first woman to summit Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen in 1988.

In October 1988, Bradey successfully climbed Mount Everest, making her the first female to reach the summit without supplemental oxygen, as well as the first New Zealand female and the youngest New Zealander at the time. This ascent, like the previous year on Gasherbrum II, broke rules agreed with the Nepalese. Bradey did not have a permit for the route she climbed, and her teammates Rob Hall and Gary Ball said she had not reached the summit to avoid being banned from the mountain. When the Nepalese government threatened Bradey with a 10-year climbing ban, she too retracted her claim of a successful ascent, only to reassert her claim to the summit later.

She has since gone on to summit the mountain five more times.

Lydia Bradey - Starting from the Bottom

Bradey lives in Lake Hāwea, Otago (New Zealand) with her partner Dean Staples.

“I think its really important for young people to look ahead and see that people who excel at different areas of the world, whether it is science or art or writing or reading or running often start from a lower point. They don’t start as heroes.” ~ Lydia Bradey

Notable Achievements

  • First woman in the world and the only New Zealander to climb Everest without oxygen (1988).
  • One of the very few women to successfully guide Everest six times.
  • First Ascents on mountains in Pakistan & Antarctic Peninsula.
  • More than 20 expeditions to over 6,000m Climbed on personal expeditions and commercial guiding trips to high altitude in Nepal, Pakistan, India, China, Bhutan, Argentina, Peru and Tanzania.
  • Climbed 10 “Big Walls” in Yosemite Valley, California, USA (cliffs taking 7-10 days to climb), making 7 first female ascents in the early 1980s.