Review published on November 22, 2017.
When Bonita Norris stood on top of the world’s highest mountain on 17th May 2010 she became the youngest woman to stand on the summit of Everest. Being there was the realisation of a dream that begun when she was when she heard someone talk about being on the roof of the world and being able to see the curvature of the earth and realised that she wanted to do that too. Not only was it the achievement of climbing through the death zone and being on top of a physical mountain, but her journey along the way had taught her so much about being tenacious, having self-belief and pushing yourself far beyond your modest capabilities.
All she had to do now was get back down.
The route Norris took to get to the bottom of Mount Everest was not a completely straightforward one. Her childhood was generally a happy one, until from her parent’s separation. This sparked some anxieties, including an eating disorder, but these were overcome and she ended up studying a degree at Royal Holloway where she heard Rob Casserley and Kenton Cool talk about climbing. This one moment was to change her life forever, give her a purpose that had never crossed her mind and help her forge a different path to the one she was intending. She dropped Kenton a message, and they met at Kings Cross station and he outlined what she needed to do to reach that goal. Now more convinced than ever that she didn’t want to be one of those that had never climbed it, practice at climbing begun in earnest. Her parents were less convinced though, and persuading them she would be able to do it was another mountain to conquer too. Less than a year later Bonita was on her way to Nepal for the first time for a practice run up Mansulu, and her first climb into the death zone of a mountain.
Funding the Everest trip was going to be hard though as these trips are not cheap. She began writing to lots of companies to try and raise the necessary funds and was getting nowhere. A last fraught attempt to raise the cash by ringing into a radio station had the result that she needed and her experience of a lifetime was actually going to happen.
There were several mountains that had to be conquered before her dream of standing on top of the world could happen. Not just persuading her parents that she would be fine as she was climbing with some of the best in the world, but building the self-belief and discipline that comes with undertaking a task like this. She has learnt from the heart-stopping moments that she has had when in the high mountains as well as taking those moments to enjoy the personal and team achievements of reaching the highest places on earth, including one of the few to summit Lhotse. Norris is another tough lady who set her sights on a dream and realised it. The writing is not bad, but this is more a book to inspire others to discover the things they want to do and to set about achieving them.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Girl Who Climbed Everest by Bonita Norris
Hodder & Stoughton 9781473649750 hbk Jul 2017