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1995: British woman conquers Everest
A British mother of two has become the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.

Alison Hargreaves, 33, is only the second person ever to reach the peak of the world's highest mountain unaided.

She reached the 29,028ft (8,847.7m) summit at 1208 local time on Saturday - 0723 in Britain - and immediately radioed her base camp. She wanted to send a fax to her two children, Tom and Kate, aged six and four, at home near Fort William on the west coast of Scotland.

The message was: "I am on the top of the world and I love you dearly."

She set herself a formidable target
Husband Jim Ballard
Before starting her descent, she planted a silk flower.

Her husband Jim Ballard, 48, a climbing photographer, who stayed at home to look after the children said: "I am very proud of Alison. I always had confidence in her ability to get to the roof of the world, although she set herself a formidable target."

Alison tackled the mountain's notorious north ridge from Tibet after more than a year's training on the slopes of Ben Nevis.

She failed in a similar attempt last year, when she was driven back at 27,500ft (8,382m) by arctic winds which threatened to freeze her hands and feet.

Cally Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Nevis Range ski slope where Miss Hargreaves trained said: "This is the most important climb ever undertaken by a woman. It's fabulous."

Miss Hargreaves, who uses her maiden name for climbing, arrived at base camp at 17,060ft (5,199.9m) on 11 April. She climbed the entire route without porters or oxygen

She was forced to approach the summit almost along the top of the arduous north ridge because weather conditions meant the slopes below were almost bare of snow.

The only other climber to have reached the top of Everest unaided was Reinhold Messner in 1980.

Alison Hargreaves now plans to climb the world's second highest mountain, K2, unaided after a short break in Scotland.

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Alison Hargreaves with backdrop of mountains
Alison Hargreaves before leaving for her attempt on Everest



In Context
Three months to the day after her successful conquest of Everest, Alison Hargreaves was killed shortly after reaching the summit of Pakistan's K2.

Three climbers who had tackled the summit with her were also killed. Three members of a separate five-strong Spanish team died the same day.

New Zealander Peter Hillary, son of the Everest pioneer, Sir Edmund Hillary, was climbing with the Hargreaves' team, but turned back before the fateful summit bid and survived.

It is not clear how they died. Witnesses on the mountain said there was a sudden mountain storm, combined with a bitter 100mph (160.9kph) wind. At least one climber is thought to have fallen.

Following Miss Hargreave's death, there was some criticism in the media about whether a mother should be allowed to pursue such a dangerous sport.

In 1996, Jim Ballard and the couple's two children, made an emotional pilgrimage to Pakistan to visit the foot of K2.

Both children have developed a keen interest in climbing and Tom has said he would like to become a professional climber.

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