Personal trainer hits new high of becoming first woman from Aberdeen to climb Everest

Lee Donald has spent two years preparing for her epic fundraiser
Lee Donald has spent two years preparing for her epic fundraiser -Credit:Laura Hebbert

A personal trainer has reached new heights by becoming the first woman from Aberdeen to climb Mount Everest and only the seventh from Scotland to achieve the feat.

Lee Donald, 42, embarked on the epic fundraising challenge at the end of March, completing the mammoth climb on Monday, May 13 and reaching the near-9,000-metre summit.

Back home in the Granite City, Lee's partner Laura Hebbert has watched closely for updates and supported her through what has been a gruelling task while providing other followers with regular updates of her quest to the top.

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Speaking to Aberdeen Live, Laura explained why Lee wanted to take on the incredible venture, saying: "It's just something she's always had a fascination with since she was little. She's always wanted to stand on top of the world.

"She's overcome an eating disorder and addiction and wanted to go from that rock bottom to the top of the world, and it was a couple of years ago she told me she's going to climb Everest.

"Since that moment it's just been full on with training, getting all the kit, sorting sponsorships, and here we are it's all done now."

Having reached base camp, it was then a two-week trek to the top of the world, but with contact dipping in and out all Laura could do was track Lee's progress through the Garmin app.

Her gruelling climb took two weeks to complete
Her gruelling climb took two weeks to complete -Credit:Laura Hebbert

"It's not been easy", she added. "Especially the other day when there's no contact and all you can do is follow the tracker to see if she's safe.

"But I think because I was such a big part of all of her training and planning for it all it gave me plenty of confidence in her ability."

The physical challenge of climbing the mountain is gruelling enough, and the fear of avalanches can also spring to mind, but Lee's journey hasn't been without its other struggles and challenges.

Laura added: "She's been really poorly. They do various rotations up through the camps on Everest so they can acclimatise and don't get altitude sickness.

"But she got so poorly that she actually had to miss her last rotation so that actually put her at more risk of acute mountain sickness so it was really worrying over the last few days how she'd get on.

"But she's done it and she's feeling good, she's knackered but she's feeling good."

Lee overcame being poorly to complete the climb
Lee overcame being poorly to complete the climb -Credit:Laura Hebbert

Her achievement has seen those following her climb on social media flood the page with congratulations, with Laura adding the Lord Provost of Aberdeen had also praised her remarkable efforts.

The venture has also seen a remarkable fundraising effort launched by Lee, who wanted to raise cash for Friends of Anchor who had supported her grandad when he was dealing with ill health.

However when a sponsor pulled out last minute from the challenge, it left Lee facing a funding struggle for her trip, with a second fundraiser launched to help get Lee back to base camp.

Laura said: "Basically she had been raising money for Friends of Anchor throughout, and has nearly raised £5,000 for them now which is just amazing.

"But obviously it costs an awful lot of money to go to Everest, and she did have a key sponsor pull out right at the last minute which is awful.

Lee set out on going from rock bottom to a new high by conquering the world-famous mountain
Lee set out on going from rock bottom to a new high by conquering the world-famous mountain -Credit:Laura Hebbert

"She's actually had to self-fund the trip throughout which is eye-wateringly expensive, and the chopper from base camp back to Kathmandu wasn't an option for her.

"As you can imagine, it took her two weeks to get there, so you can imagine having to cover that distance in three days, when you've already climbed all the way up Everest, she's been dreading it.

"When she got out of signal range, I thought because everyone's been so enthralled in her journey, I wondered if anyone wanted to chip in and within 24 hours I'd pretty much filled it.

"So I've thankfully been able to give her the good news she can get a chopper home tomorrow so she's delighted."

The page saw donations fly in, including one anonymous donation of a whopping £700, and throughout her Everest climb Lee has received backing from the north-east and right across the globe.

Lee's challenge saw her raise funds for the Friends of Anchor charity
Lee's challenge saw her raise funds for the Friends of Anchor charity -Credit:Laura Hebbert

Laura said: "The backing has been amazing. The north-east has been totally behind her but people from all over the world have been watching and it's been great.

"It's been like a full-time job for me keeping her social media up to date and replying to people's messages, and it's just been lovely to see how many people have been onboard with her."

As an elite athlete, personal trainer, and a determined conquerer of Everest, there may well be another challenge on the horizon for the determined Aberdonian.

But Laura is now looking forward to welcoming home her partner after supporting her in reaching her new high over the last two years.

"We've been together for two years and it has been a goal of hers pretty much the whole relationship, her wanting to climb Everest.

"It's going to be quite weird when she gets home, like 'oh what do we do now?' But it's my birthday this week and I didn't expect her home until June and she'll be due back soon so I can't wait.

"I think there will be something next, she's an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) athlete, she's competed at the World Championships and things like that.

"Lee is always training for something, and after Everest I'm not sure what's next but I'm sure she will be training for something.

"She's remarkable because I didn't know what you had to do to be able to complete Everest. She had to do a 4,000-metre hike, a winter training course, and it's just been a crazy couple of years."

You can donate to Lee's fundraiser for Friends of Anchor on her JustGiving page.