Charlene Gibson grew up as a studious bookworm, who wasn't keen on the outdoors. She is an only child who was brought up by her Mum and Nana in a pretty rough area of Scotland, near Glasgow. Although an avid reader of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, there was really nothing adventurous about her at all. However, in her mid 30s, following the break-up of a long-term relationship, she discovered her inner adventurer when, to avoid spending Christmas alone, she booked on a trekking holiday to Morocco. Despite the horror of having to nip behind a rock, armed with only a roll of toilet paper and some matches, she discovered that she loved the trip (albeit still not quite used to nipping behind a rock!) and decided that she wanted more. Trips to Turkey, Morocco (again), Kazakhstan, India, Peru and Nepal followed, with each trip being more strenuous and challenging than the last. That could only lead to one thing - mountaineering!
In 2013 she decided to aim high and successfully summited Mera Peak in Nepal, which is classed as a 'trekking' peak. Despite the success, it highlighted to her the limits of her mountaineering skillset and how fortunate she'd been that nothing had gone wrong. Several high-quality mountaineering courses later and rather more experience under her belt saw her looking for a worthy challenge to help celebrate (or commiserate) turning 50 in 2016. And what better challenge than attempting an 8000m peak for the first time.
On 1st October 2016, Charlene became the oldest British woman to summit Cho Oyu (8201m) and living proof that the most unlikely people can sometimes do the most surprising things - it's certainly been a surprise to her mother.
As of March 2018, her Cho Oyu record still stands, but will be under threat in Spring 2018, when two British women will be vying for it.
Charlene's next challenge is to attempt Ama Dablam in October 2018
Twitter - @MadOldCatWoman
Here’s hoping for a follow up episode after the successful ascent of Ama Dablam.