Kathmandu: In what is either this year’s wildest prank or bravest dare, an 85-year-old Briton has announced her plan to scale the highest mountain in the world – along with her pet pooch.Mary Woodbridge, a resident of Greenfield, says she would head for the 8,848m Mount Everest next month along with her four-and-a-half year old dachshund Daisy.
"Eighteen days to go before the expedition starts," says her web site, outlining her goal and training
cylinders. "I’m sure we can make it to the top of Mount Everest. We both go for a walk every day and keep ourselves very fit!" The photographs show the white-haired sturdy adventurer walking in a determined manner, with Daisy on a leash. For extra fitness, she also does "stretching exercises" – which includes kicking her legs up in the air and twisting her torso.Like her idol George Mallory, who died while trying to reach the summit, Mary has decided to dispense with Sherpas. Nor would she and Daisy be using oxygen"I can certainly carry my own food and the few cans of dog food for Daisy," she says. "I have prepared a solid Irish stew and power crunchies." She adds: "Since we are training very hard we don’t expect to need additional oxygen on our ascent. There are no oxygen masks for Daisy anyway."
What will instead support Woodbridge during the climb – if it really takes place – is her unshaken faith in the superiority of the British race.Talking of another of her idols, Robert Scott, she says forcefully, "I still believe he is the real discoverer of the South Pole. No way (Ronald) Amundsen was cleverer than the British explorers."However, Mary’s faith – both in British explorers and in herself – does not seem to have been shared so far by the people she has been trying to rope in as sponsors.She had approached the National Geographic but they politely refused. "Thank you for your pre-application expressing interest in a grant from the National Geographic’s Expeditions Council. We appreciate the opportunity to review your request for support for your project," the magazine replied in a stiff little note."While we understand the importance of your efforts, regretfully we must decline participation." Her plan also triggered some ribald comments from adventure web site ExplorersWeb. "For some reason she hasn’t approached ExplorersWeb," the site lamented. "That’s just too bad – we already have a number of new cool tech ideas for Mary." These include an eyepiece under the wig for transmissions, a pill provided in collaboration with NASA to monitor Mary’s heart rate live online with her walking stick being the "perfect antenna".
However, Mary could have the last laugh if she does manage to pull it off. So far, the oldest woman to summit Mt Everest is Japanese Tamae Watanabe, who conquered the peak in May 2002 at the age of 63. The oldest man to have reached the top is fellow Japanese Yuichiro Miura, who summited in May 2001, when he was 70 years old. programme. "I’m 85-years-old and I’m going to climb Mt. Everest along with my dog Daisy, of course," she says.