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A Little help from my Friends: Valerie Parkinson

I’ve been blown away by all the help I’ve been offered by friends, family and strangers since I started organising this expedition.

The first person who has saved my bacon is Valerie Parkinson.

Valerie worked with me at Exodus Travels and is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met. She has spent over half her life in the Himalayas, and was the first British woman to summit the eighth tallest peak in the world, Manaslu in Nepal (8,163m), without supplementary oxygen. To top it off, Valerie also reached the South Summit of Everest (8,761m) as a cheeky 50th birthday present to herself – something that for now, I can only ever dream of doing.

Valerie Parkinson on the summit of Manaslu, Nepal

I don’t know why I thought locating a yak fur coat and boots in the UK would be possible, but after weeks of googling and traipsing round charity shops (why on earth did I think I’d find one in there?!) I realised that I probably wasn’t going to get my hands on them that easily.

Just when I was beginning to despair, I happened to be showing Valerie a picture of what I’d be wearing on my trip. Very casually she said “Oh, I can get you those coats and boots very easily in Leh”. As Valerie lives for part of the year in India, this seemed like a very good suggestion.

So that was that. Valerie is now organising for my boots and coats (I’m taking a spare of each just in case!) to be delivered to Delhi, ready for when I arrive, which is such a huge weight off my shoulders. I don't have much of an idea as to what these coats and boots will look like, so it will be a bit of a surprise for everyone when I try them on for the first time.

Valerie is also a big fan of Alexandra David-Néel, and when I first mentioned my idea to her, she dug out her own copy of My Journey to Lhasa, and started to re-read it.

Valerie Parkinson's notes on My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel

I really love getting post, so you can imagine my excitement a few weeks later when a letter from Valerie arrived with my name on it. Inside the envelope I found the first two pages of her copy of My Journey to Lhasa ripped out and stapled together. On them was a handwritten chronological list of all the places Alexandra had visited in the book!

Valerie Parkinson's notes on My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel

This list will come in handy when we eventually reach the last stage of the Woman with Altitude project – the final journey to Lhasa! Maybe Valerie can come along for that one…

Valerie Parkinson's notes on My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel


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