This month Fiona Thornewill MBE is celebrating her 50th year by attempting to make the 100th ascent of the nose of El Capitan, the hardest and tallest rock face in North America, together with famed American climber Hans Florine, the current world speed record holder.
Born in Upton, Fiona attended Lowe’s Wong Junior School in Southwell before going to The Rodney School in Kirklington.
In 2000 she became the first British woman to ski to the South Pole and in 2001 the first British woman to ski to the North Pole.
In 2004 Fiona set a world Speed record becoming the fastest person to ski to the South Pole in just 41 days – something she did solo. Her 55-day North Pole ski remains the fastest time by a woman.
Fiona has received many accolades; Pride of Britain Award 2000, European Woman of the Year 2004, Woman of Substance 2004, and in 2006 was awarded the MBE for services to Charity and Polar Exploration.
The Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California, is the name given to the most famous rock climb in the world. First climbed in 1958 by Warren Harding, the route is a sheer 3000-foot cliff of vertical granite. It has a fierce reputation for tremendous difficulty, and is generally regarded as The Holy Grail of rock climbs, by climbers all around the world.
The climb normally takes between three and six days – and as an amateur climber, Fiona’s aim is to reach the top safely and under the revered three days rather than breaking the current speed record held by elite climber, Hans Florine – who in 2012 conquered the climb in an unbelievable 2 hours and 23 minutes ! Regardless of speed, Fiona will still be one of the oldest women ever to take on The Nose. Fiona is joining forces with Hans Florine to mark his 100th ascent of The Nose as well as her 50th birthday.
Fiona has 2 other aims:
1. To inspire women from all backgrounds they can face any challenge they put their mind to.
To protect the UK’s shrinking countryside – and protect it for our children’s future – by raising money for the BMC Access & Conservation Trust.