British Alpinist Fay Manners hopes to be role model for young women in sport, she tells Aviemore audience
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Internationally renowned UK climber Fay Manners told an audience in Aviemore that she wants to encourage young girls and women to follow their passion for sport and mountaineering.
The English athlete, sponsored by North Face, was talking at a packed event in Tiso Aviemore last Wednesday evening.
Last year she made the first female ascent of the Phantom Direct route on the south face of the Grand Jorasses, the longest ice route in the Mont Blanc massif.
In the same year, Fay, who is based in Chamonix in the French Alps, also climbed the North Face of the Eiger, the American Direct on the Dru, the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses, and the Cassin Ridge on Denali as part of an all-female team.
Her climbing partner Lina Van den Berg was sadly killed in an avalanche in the Swiss Alps earlier this year, the audience learned during an interview with Heather Morning, the chief instructor at Glenmore Lodge and former mountain safety officer at Mountaineering Scotland.
Fay said: “I was really into sports growing up and I used to play hockey every day and wanted to be a professional hockey player, but everyone said ‘how will you live off that?’. So I didn’t see being a female in sport as a possibility.
“Now to make a career as a professional athlete – I wish I’d known that was a possibility when I was younger and had role models to look up to.
“I would like to show that to younger women, that it is a possibility, and just to follow your passion into sport.”
Fay was promoting her film Embracing The Grim, poignantly filmed in the Highlands with Lina before her death. Fay described Scotland as being similar to Norway, with a good level of challenge and “fickle weather”. The film is currently being shown at mountain film festivals and other events, including the Fort William Mountain Festival, where it will be shown on January 18.
As the season turns to winter, she said her approach to risk as a professional mountaineer was about having the confidence to make her own decision in the hills, even if that meant not climbing, walking or skiing a particular route.
“I just do what everyone else does,” she said. “I read the avalanche forecasts, assess the conditions and turn around if you need to. I get all of the information in front of me and do my best to make the right decision.”
All proceeds from the event were being donated to the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team.