Nepal | July 10, 2020

Geologist McGill first South African woman to scale Mt Manaslu

Rajan Pokhrel
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Jeannette McGill along with Pasang Ongchu Sherpa on top of Mt Manaslu. Photo: McGill

KATHMANDU: A renowned geologist from Johannesburg has become the first woman from South Africa to successfully climb Mt Manaslu in the autumn season.

According to the expedition organiser, Jeanette McGill along with an expedition locally handled by Expedition Base Pvt. Ltd stood atop the 8,163-metre mountain on September 28 becoming the first woman from her country to climb the world’s eighth highest peak.

“The goal of summiting an 8,000m mountain has been finally attained this season,” McGill, 45, told The Himalayan Times upon her arrival in Kathmandu from Manaslu region.

McGill, who works as Head of Telstra Mining Services in Johannesburg, had attempted to climb the mountain in 2015. “Bad weather condition, however, forced me to give up the climbing bid from Camp III,” she shared.

Having grown up in a hiking family and becoming a member of the South African’s Mountain Club at the age of 11, McGill has never let her knack for adventure to stop. The seasoned mountaineer led a field research team to Mt Kilimanajro for the 35th International Geological Congress in 2016. “I have been to Mt Kilimanajaro four times and also been to the North Col of Mt Everest.” She shared her climbing experiences.

Climbing Mt Manaslu was really a lifetime experience, she said, adding that the climb was tough but awesome. My climb was for women’s empowerment, she added.

As one of the Global 100 Women in Mining for 2016 McGill said she always had mountaineering aspirations. “That’s why I was there on the mountain being the first South African woman ever to take on such challenge,” she quipped.

A PhD holder in Mining Engineering, Economic Geology and Mineral Economics from Colorado School of Mines, McGill had also worked with Anglo-American Platinum as head of the technology and innovation division. As the second woman to be issued an underground blasting certificate in the Free State province in South Africa, McGill also serves as president of the Geological Society of South Africa, as well as a non-executive board member of the Council for Geoscience. “I will continue climbing activities in the years to come,” she concluded.

According to the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation more than 120 foreign climbers along with more than 100 climbing Sherpas successfully scaled Mt Manaslu while 192 foreign climbers representing 18 teams had obtained climbing permits to attempt to climb the mountain in the autumn climbing season.

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