NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Lucy Westlake runs cross-country for Naperville North, but training for her favorite hobby has taken her places most 17-year-olds could only dream of.
“There are no mountains in Chicago,” laughed Westlake. “Little hard to train, but how I started was really just from a love of nature and from my family. I was raised outdoors, basically. I was one of the barefoot children.
“We love to travel. We’re like a traveling family. As we traveled, we stopped by different mountains.”
At 13, Lucy had her sights set on Denali in Alaska – the highest point in the North American Continent. The guide service told her to come back if she could summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
“Everyone’s like, ‘What is she doing?'” Westlake explained. “‘Is she going to be able to carry her own weight of 100 pounds up the mountain?'”
She proved not to be a liability at all and returned to Alaska, making Denali’s high camp before bad weather turned her group around.
“Being on a glacier for 21 days, not reaching your goal and not even being able to attempt to reach your goal – that was pretty devastating. For a while, I didn’t want to go back. I was like, ‘Oh, I’m never doing that again.'”
But giving up is not what Lucy is about.
“Yes, I’m young. I’m a girl. I’m small. I don’t look like I can do these things, but really you just have to set your mind to it. You have to not question yourself. You have to trust yourself.”
She proved herself by finally summitting Denali on Father’s Day, alongside her dad, becoming the youngest female to climb all 50 of the U.S. highpoints.
“Don’t limit yourself,” remarked Westlake. “We settle too quickly. We are too quick to doubt ourselves. Pushing through that and going to the next level of challenging your body in whatever mountain that is – it doesn’t have to be an actual mountain, those are great. I recommend climbing some. But, it can be anything in your life. Any challenge.”
Lucy has big plans going forward. She’s graduating a semester early and her next goal is to become the youngest woman to complete the Explorers Grand Slam by climbing the highest point in each continent and skiing the North and South Pole.
She will also be working with Patrick Leddin this summer, promoting his book, The 5-Week Leadership Challenge. Lucy’s mountaineering story is featured in Chapter 3. It hits bookshelves August 24th.