Mountain mother

Posted on September 24, 2011


Earlier this week, I had a long discussion with Suzanne Al Houby about her summit of Everest, the world’s tallest mountain at 8,848m, after 51 days of climbing and two years of preparation.

I was excited to meet with her.  We have been in touch for a while but not until this week had we chatted in any great depth. And not until this week, had I quite realised what a diamond Suzanne really is.

Suzanne is a 40-year old Palestinian mother of two and the first Arab women to summit Everest. No stay-at-home mother though, Suzanne is the founder of Rahhalah Explorers, an adventure tourism company dedicated to nurturing the adventurous spirit that exists in us all, by enabling us to live our dreams in exotic and wild destinations throughout the world.

We spoke of her training and planning, the kit and the logistics, the days at base camp and the stark divide that splits the trekking community from the climbing community. And from start to finish, she struck me as one of the most humble and modest people I have ever come across.  She speaks with not a hint of arrogance yet she eludes a quiet confidence that comes only from understanding yourself and having an innate sense of self-belief.  This sort of quiet determination, I find inspiring.

And it is this sort of characteristic that makes someone very special.  So many people now strive to climb the highest, run the longest, cycle the furthest, dive the deepest …. yet so many people do so, more for extrinsic applaud than personal reward.

This is particularly true when it comes to the mountain climbing community.  Egos can get people to the summit but sadly, they don’t always get people down again.  Suzanne on the other hand got to the top and down again without a song and a dance.  In fact, she told me straight up when we chatted, that her thoughts when standing on the roof of the world, were little more than continuing to focus on getting back down again, safe and sound. At that stage, she was only half way through her journey after all.

I have spent much time since our meeting feeling driven by Suzanne.  I applaud her efforts beyond measure.  She is a first class example of an ‘ordinary’ woman who has achieved ‘extraordinary’ results and should be used throughout the community as a living example of what can be achieved if only people dare to declare their dreams and then set step by step goals to fulfil them. 

Suzanne’s two daughters would certainly be hard-stretched to find a better role model for a mother.  

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