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When we catch professional female adventurer and presenter Squash Falconer on the phone at her home in the mountains of Tignes, she is planning a ski-touring trip to Svalbard. Summertime here means 24 hours of non-stop sunlight and optimum conditions for skinning up slopes and skiing down, while sleeping on a trawler ship that traverses the coast.
One of the highlights, alongside exploring such remote, untouched beauty, is the chance to ski past polar bears. Her path from events organizer to mountaineer, presenter, paraglider and professional daredevil is one of sheer determination and self-belief. She increasingly splits her time between extreme alpine adventuring and motivational talks to blue-chip CEOs and school-children. I was going to go to university, but I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to do a ski season instead in Les Alps. I had skied a few times growing up, but never the French Alps and I loved them immediately.
I used to look up at Mont Blanc, and find it mesmerizing — there was a constant pull to it, although I never imagined that it would play such an important role in my life. You run, cycle, kayak and climb for Single woman Tignes hours straight. I fell in love with it.
We had started filming our trips, and had won an award for a film we had made and it sparked the idea to step in front of the camera. Then I came up with a crazy plan, the culmination of three dreams in one: To motorbike through the Alps to Mont Blanc, climb the mountain and then paraglide off. A friend who had taught me to paraglide agreed to come with me. Due to the weather, it took us 3 attempts to climb the mountain, 2 days up and 22 minutes down. Against all the odds, I was the first British woman to fly off Mont Blanc. It was a real turning point for me — that was when I Single woman Tignes I could turn my passions into a career.
A teammate on Cho Oyu, an m peak I had climbed, said he thought I was strong enough to climb Everest. After the success of Mont Blanc, I felt like anything was possible, or certainly trying anything was possible.
I was turning 30, I was single and I thought, if not now, then when? To get prepared, I spent hours hiking up the mountains in Tignes with a kilo pack on my back and skiing back down. I worked with Salomon, Rab and Go Pro for kit support and sponsorship, and then I took a loan to cover the outstanding Everest fees.
While we did summit Everest, the weather was too poor to paraglide back down, which was a real pity. Although it took four years to pay back the loan, Everest opened the door to after-dinner speaking, and then motivational speaking.
Speaking to school kids is a highlight as they are so open to believing they can do anything. Tignes is fantastic for touring because you have this vast backcountry — you put on your skis and go where there are no lifts and no people and sleep overnight. My favourite refuge is called Palet, off Col du Palet. Athena Journal. Share this.
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