Conquered: Youngest US woman, first all-Black team reach summit of Mount Everest

The world’s largest mountain peak was scaled in record-setting fashion this month.

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Lucy Westlake, 18, of Naperville, Illinois, became the youngest American woman to climb the 29,032-foot mountain in the Himalayas, the Chicago Tribune reported. She reached the summit at 5:36 a.m. local time on Thursday, the newspaper reported.

Westlake reached the top of Everest at the age of 18 years, 6 months, 8 days, breaking the 15-year record held by Samantha Larson, of Long Beach, California, the Tribune reported. Larson was 18 years, 7 months, 9 days old.

On May 2, seven members of the Full Circle Everest group reached the summit on May 12, “Today” reported. The team became the first all-Black squad to scale Mount Everest. Of the estimated 10,000 people to have reached the summit in Nepal, only about 10 were Black, the news program reported.

Speaking to the Naperville Sun from Nepal, Westlake, who graduated from Naperville North High School in December so she could attempt the record, said standing at the top of the world was a “surreal” experience.

“I was just kind of repeating (to) myself, like, ‘I did it. I did. I did it.’ … I was so happy,” Westlake told the newspaper. “ My parents are going to be so proud.

“It was amazing. There is no feeling like it.”

Rosemary Saal was joined from Nepal by teammates Phil Richardson and Manoah Ainuu. She said that conquering Everest was an extraordinary experience.

“This is a huge accomplishment, just for each of us on our team, for the Full Circle team, for our Sherpa team, for all of the support that we had,” Rosemary Saal told “Today” on Thursday. “And now we’re able to take this experience and take it back to our communities and tell the stories, share what we’ve learned of this beautiful place and culture and hopefully inspire a future generation of outdoor enthusiast(s).”

Other members of the team included Eddie Taylor, Demond “Dom” Mullins, Thomas Moore, James “KG” Kagami and Evan Green, according to ABC News.

“My big goal with this project is to help demystify the process of climbing your Everest; it doesn’t necessarily need to be Everest,” Abby Dione, a member of Full Circle Everest, told the network.

For Westlake, it was the first time she had climbed a major mountain peak without her father, Rodney Westlake, the Tribune reported. The pair reached the tops of Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2017, Aconcagua in South America in 2018 and Elbrus in Europe in 2019, according to the television station.

When they reached Denali in 2021, they became the youngest father-daughter team to climb all 50 U.S. state high points, the Tribune reported.

Westlake’s next obstacle to conquer is closer to home. She will be attending the University of Southern California in August, WFLD-TV reported.