Mountaineer Bonita Norris Will Make You Want to Be a Badass Climber Too

When Bonita Norris climbed Mount Everest in 2010, she became the youngest British woman at the time. (Melissa Arnot recently set the record to become the first woman not to add oxygen.) More importantly, she only reached the peak of 29,000 feet of climbing, two years after her whim. “I had a speech at the university about Mount Everest and decided that I wanted to be a climber,” Norris said. She never looked back. Now, the mission of world-class rock climbers is to make more people indulge in outdoor high. Just from Adventure K2, the second highest mountain in the world, she shares some pointers bravely to live.

Mental game

Your goals should be really big and scare the crap out of you. Even the thought of Everest made my heart race. I was in love, I was obsessed, and I was completely terrified.

Must-have gear

Dear Kate leggings! They’re so comfortable that I wore them as a base layer for my whole K2 expedition. I also like to take a fresh pair of socks and underwear for each day of an expedition—it really helps with morale.

Expedition prep

Mountaineering is all about endurance: Climbing above 8,000 meters—nicknamed the Death Zone—is like having the worst flu while doing 30 hours of the hardest exercise you’ve ever done, all without eating, drinking, or sleeping. So I do multiple short but intense workouts a day. I’ll circuit-train in the gym, doing four eight-minute sets of things like burpees, press-ups, weights, and pull-ups; do a 50-minute session on the climbing wall; then go for a 40-minute run or to a yoga class.

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Sanity saver

My family has cats, so my mom bought me a little furry water bottle and said, “You can pretend it’s Bubbles when you’re in the mountains.”

Newbie advice

The biggest thing climbing has taught me is to take it just one step at a time. No matter how intimidated and overwhelmed you are, have the faith that those little steps will add up.

You love your shape because…

I love my toned arms and back, which I’ve earned from being a climber. That’s the secret to body confidence—using your body to achieve your goals.

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