For Immediate Release

MAY 20, 2007

Media Release



MOUNT EVEREST, NEPAL – A 29-year old Sudbury native and mountain climber has achieved her dream of becoming the first Canadian Forces member and the youngest Canadian female to summit Mount Everest and achieve the Seven Summits. Meagan McGrath made it to the “top of the world” at 7:15 p.m. Sudbury time on Sunday May 20 (5 a.m. Monday, May 21 Nepal time). Nepal’s Mount Everest is 8,848 metres (29,028 feet) tall at its peak.

“I’m calling a bit earlier than I anticipated, and you’ll notice my voice is a bit hoarse,” said Meagan in her latest audio blog from the top of the world (attached), “but I’m only going to say a few words….and those words are that I summited at about 5 o’clock on the 21st of May…so, I’m really happy about that…I never thought it would happen…and it was a lot of work…but I’m only halfway there. I’ve still got to get down! We’ve only spent about 1/2 an hour on the summit, but conditions are a bit chilly, so we’re going to head on down, and like I say, we’re going to be very safe, because we’re only halfway through the battle.”

Meagan went on to thank her sponsors (listed below) and her Sherpa, Ang Rita, who accompanied her to the summit, with gratitude and strong emotion in her voice.

Science North will forward photos to the media as soon as we receive them from Meagan.

About Meagan
Meagan is a Captain in the Canadian Air Force. She is an aerospace engineer and works at the Air Force Experimentation Centre in Ottawa. As a child, Meagan regularly visited Science North and was a regular participant in Science North’s summer camps and programs…and that inspired her to pursue a career in science.

Following is a list of the tallest peaks on the world’s seven continents, and the dates on which Meagan successfully climbed them (newest to oldest):

Mt. Everest – Nepal (tallest in world) – May, 2007 – 8848 metres (29,028 feet)
Mt. Kosciuszko – Australia – April 2006 – 2228 metres (7,310 feet)
Mt. Vinson Massif – Antarctica – December 2004 – 4892 metres (16,066 feet)
Mt. Elbrus – Europe – August 2003 – 5642 metres (18,510 feet)
Mt. McKinley – North America – June 2003 – 6194 metres (20,320 feet)
Mt. Aconcagua – South America – December 2002 – 6962 metres (22,841 feet)
Mt. Kilimanjaro – Africa – April 2002 – 5895 metres (19,563 feet)

After several weeks of ascending and descending Everest to acclimatize to the altitude, Meagan began her “summit push” on Wednesday afternoon Sudbury time (early Thursday morning Nepal time), ascending from Everest Base Camp (5,380 m or 17,600 ft) past the dangerous Khumbu Icefall and Camp 1 (6,065 m or 19,900 ft), up the Western Cwm (pronounced “coom”) to the base of the Lhotse face where Camp 2 is established at 6,500 m (21,300 ft.) Meagan rested at Camp 2 on Friday the 18th, and then ascended on fixed ropes up the Lhotse face to Camp 3, located on a small ledge at 7,470 m (24,500 ft) on the 19th. After an overnight stay at Camp 3, Meagan then ascended to Camp 4 on the South Col for the first time at 7,920 metres (26,000 feet). On the South Col, climbers enter the [ fcp://@fc.sciencenorth.ca,%231016102/wiki/Death_zone ]death zone. Climbers typically only have a maximum of two or three days they can endure at this altitude for making summit bids. Clear weather and low winds are critical factors in deciding whether to make a summit attempt. If weather does not cooperate within these short few days, climbers are forced to descend, many all the way back down to Base Camp.

She arrived at Camp 4 yesterday morning and began to hydrate herself by drinking water the entire time she was there in preparation for her final ascent to the peak. She left Camp 4 at around noon Sudbury time (9:15 p.m. Nepal time) and got to the Summit at 7:15 p.m. time Sudbury time (5 a.m. time Nepal time)…but not without successfully navigating several risky parts of the mountain.

About Meagan’s “Summit Push”
According to the popular on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia, Meagan first reached “The Balcony” at 8,400 m (27,700 ft), a small platform where she would be able to rest and gaze at peaks to the south and east in the early dawn light. Continuing up the ridge, Meagan was then faced with a series of imposing rock steps, which may have forced her to the east into waist deep snow, a serious avalanche hazard. At 8,750 m (28,700 ft), a small table-sized dome of ice and snow marks the South Summit.
From the South Summit, Meagan would have followed the knife-edge southeast ridge along what is known as the “Cornice traverse” where snow clings to intermittent rock. This is the most exposed section of the climb as a misstep to the left would have sent her 2,400 m (8,000 ft) down the southwest face while to the immediate right is the 3,050 m (10,000 ft) Kangshung face. At the end of this traverse is an imposing 12 m (40 ft) rock wall called the “Hillary Step” at 8,760 m (28,750 ft).

Once above the step, it is a comparatively easy climb to the top on moderately angled snow slopes – though the exposure on the ridge is extreme especially while traversing very large cornices of snow. After the Hillary Step, Meagan also had to traverse a very loose and rocky section that has a very large entanglement of fixed ropes that can be troublesome in bad weather. Climbers will typically spend less than a half-hour on “top of the world” as they realize the need to descend to Camp 4 before darkness sets in, afternoon weather becomes a serious problem, or supplemental oxygen tanks run out.

The public can read about the experience in Meagan’s own words, see photos and hear Meagan’s audio blog via her travelogue on the Science North web site at: http://sciencenorth.ca/everest From Science North to the 7th Summit: Meagan McGrath’s Everest Adventure is also the focus of a fourth-floor exhibit, now open, and upcoming public presentations by Meagan on June 19 and 20 at Science North. Admission to the exhibit is included in science centre admission – free for Science North members. Information on the exhibit and tickets to Meagan’s presentations are available on-line at http://sciencenorth.ca/everest.

Meagan’s Sponsors
From Science North to the 7th Summit: Meagan McGrath’s Everest Adventure is being supported by the following organizations:
Summit Supporter: Science North
Visitor Experience Funded By: Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation
Advanced Base Camp Sponsor: MySudbury.ca
Base Camp Sponsors: The Laamanen Group, LaPrairie Incorporated
School Program Sponsor: CVRD Inco
Media Sponsors: CTV, The Sudbury Star, CBC Radio One

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Amy Henson
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