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Feb 212010

Anne-Mari Hyryläinen

Finland is usually associated with Nordic sports like ski jumping and cross country skiing. Now Anne-Mari Hyryläinen wants to make history by being the first Finnish woman to summit Everest.

An accomplished marathoner, sick she saw Mount Everest for the first time while bicycling from Lhasa to Kathmandu. She stopped at the north side base camp and the dream was born.

Her training has taken her to Europe and Asia including Mount Blanc (traverse, Goutier 3-summits route) and several 6/7000 meter high peaks in Nepal (incl. Tukuche Peak, Chulu West, Kang Guru).

She currently lives in Dubai with her husband so the cold and harsh weather of Everest may be a welcome change from the heat and sand of the desert! While training for marathons she experiences the hardships of the coldest of conditions which is excellent preparation for Everest.

Anne-Mari explains:

Marathon is a very challenging sport requiring high level of performance over an extended period of time. It is the very character and the challenges of this sport that make it so interesting. Good performance requires hard and persistent training and well-planned preparations; Plenty of fluids, right kind of nutrition etc.

When the time comes for Everest I’ll be in top shape physically. Hard training and the competition season guarantees strong basic stamina. During February and March I will concentrate fully on Everest. Sure there will be minor competitions to attend to till departure but the Dubai Marathon was the main event for this season. Soon speed training will be replaced by running stairs in order to build endurance. We live on the 32nd floor which will guarantee breaking a sweat whenever coming from or going to home.

She will not be alone on Everest with  her goal. Her fellow countrywoman, Carina Räihä, is also trying to be the first Finnish woman to summit Everest. Only eight Fins have summited Everest, all were men. And of course the most famous is Veikka Gustafsson who went on to summit all the 14 mountains over 8000 meters without supplemental oxygen.

Anne-Marie took a moment from her training to talk about her goal.

Q: Please tell us why Everest is an important goal for you?

Because I would like to be the first Finnish woman to summit Everest.  It would be a honor to make some Finnish climbing history. For the very first time when I saw Everest with my own eyes was on a honeymoon bicycling trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Along the way we visited Everest Base Camp, North side. Seeing Everest and many other 8000ers gave me a sparkle of motivation to actually one day climb these giants. It was clear that Everest would have to be among the first ones. I also believe that it is easier to get sponsors if you are climbing Everest instead of some order 8000ers peaks. But I was wrong.

Q: Have you consulted with your famous country climber, Veikka Gustafsson?

Unfortunately not. Veikka is very much my idol and it would be very nice to meet him some day.  Maybe some time when I am visiting in Finland  I like Veikkas “style” how he is doing things.

Q: Your fellow countrywoman, Carina Räihä, is also trying to be the first Finnish woman to summit Everest. Is this a race between you?

I don’t see Carina as my competitor. Mountain climbing is no joking matter. I don’t like to think that mountains are a running track or a play field. If I am unsuccessful in some running races there are always some new races coming. If I am unsuccessful in mountain climbing it is possible to risk my life. In the mountain I am focusing only on my climbing.  But of course my goal is to be the first. My mind is very competitive and I hate loosing.  If we both have same day summit push of course then I try to be first on the top.

Q: How was your training climbs in Nepal this past Fall. What were your key lessons from the climbs that you will apply on Everest?

I have been climbing in Nepal now three times: Chulu West, Kang Guru and Tukuche Peak. In every expedition I have been learning many new things, especially in Kang Guru Expedition 2008.  It is more safer and easier if you are a strong climber. I have learned that for Everest one has to be in top shape physically, mentally strong and also a fast climber. Never lose your focus. It is important to understand your own body and to know how it works under stress.

Q: Can you talk about how you mentally train for marathons and how you will use that on Everest?

I put myself a certain target and then focus on that. I have a strong discipline and I always tell myself that “ never give up”. Competitions are great mental training also for Everest. When I am running competitions I have to forget all the pains in the body and focus on grossing the finish line. However, I need to respect the marathon distance (42.195 km) and to know my own limits. But I cannot be afraid! It is the same with Everest.  I am absolutely passionate about sports and enjoy testing my own physical and mental boundaries and pushing them further and further whenever possible.

Q: Any fears about the climb?

I do not have any fears about the climb. I love it! But having said that, I have a great respect for the mountains. I really to hope that Chomolangma gives me an opportunity to summit this year!

Q: You are filming a documentary about your climb. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The Sky Climbers team: Jussi Juutinen (climber, cameraman), Anne-Mari Hyryläinen (climber), Lhakpa Sherpa (climber, cameraman, group sherpa), Jani Einolander (editor in B.C.) and Tuukka Kouri is the director of the documentary is filming the entire Everest expedition into a documentary film “Sky Climbers – The Journey to Everest”.

The film will follow Sky Climbers team from the early preparations to the slopes of Everest covering training seasons, the challenges of mountaineering and the local Sherpa culture. The film will inspect the mental and physical aspects of mountaineering and ponder on the questions “why climb mountains?” and “what makes people travel voluntarily into dangerous and extreme environments?”

Q: Any other thoughts for your followers this year?

I am hoping in the future that I can climb more mountains and to be able to develop on that. Definitely I am back in running and training after Everest, maybe some ultra run in the future.

We wish Ann-Mari, her team and Carina all the on their expeditions. She will be climbing with Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkies. You can follow her at her site.

Climb On!