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Meet the 4 South African #strongwomen who will tackle Mt. Everest in 2020

As you may have read on fitnessmag already, four intrepid South African #strongwomen plan to summit Mt Everest in 2020 as the first all-women team from Africa to complete the climb.

The all-women team includes Lisa Gering, Alda Waddell, Deshun Deysel, and Tumi Mphahlele, who are all experienced climbers and athletes from Johannesburg. Get to know the team and find out what drives these adventure seekers.

Meet Lisa Gering

Lisa is a successful businesswoman. She owns LRM Diamonds and works full time as a shareholder and partner with REAL Entrepreneur. She holds the position of COO across two of the companies in the REAL Network group, where she is the Culture Champion and also heads up the Coaching Division.

Lisa has trekked or climbed every year, sometimes twice, since 2010 and has stayed fit and strong for the trips. She started mountaineering when she was brought into the Mt. Kilimanjaro expedition in 2010 as a ‘team and client’ trip.

What do you love about mountaineering? “I’ve never found another environment where one is tested on all levels as much – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. I love the journey of discovery and growth and the lessons one learns. The person on the other side of each trip is changed forever!”

What strengths do you bring to the team? “I play an incredibly strong supportive role and I’m able to get stuff done. I’m proactive and a self-starter. I am a good listener and people feel heard and seen when I engage with them.”

Your message to women entrepreneurs? “Our motto for our trip – ‘Courage to start, strength to endure!’”

Presenting Alda Waddell

Alda works for BMW South Africa as a Specialist in the Sub Sahara Africa Operations and Special Projects division. She has 23 years of experience in the motor industry and holds an MBA Degree from Rhodes University, BTech Degree in Management, and National Dip in Management.

She is mother of 17-year-old twins, Clair and Craig. Alda has battled personal injuries and embarked on a journey to test her own physical and mental strength by setting goals to climb the highest mountain on each continent.

What do you love about mountaineering? “The entire journey of mountaineering is an adventure, from meeting new people and creating lifelong bonds, to the extraordinary places you visit and experienced.”

When did your interest in mountaineering start? “In 2008, when I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. To most, the start of the adventure starts on day on of the summit, but to me it actually starts months prior with a lot of physical and mental preparation, along with lots of research.”

Get acquainted with Deshun Deysel

Deshun is CEO of Deshun Deysel & Associates, which equips clients to transition from Performance Management to Performance Development by using an agile, light and continuous digital platform.

Deshun lives in Johannesburg with her husband Charles and two children. Her sports involvement includes mountaineering, open water swimming, cycling, and running, and she played provincial volleyball in high school and college.

Mountaineering was “a childhood dream”, which was realised in 1995. Deshun was a member of the first team of South Africans who placed the new SA democratic flag at the top of Mt. Everest. She was also the first Black woman in the world and the youngest South African to set foot on the slopes of Mt. Everest.

Deshun has participated in climbing expeditions to five of the seven summits on five continents. She has successfully guided teams up Mt. Kenya, Mt. Kilimanjaro and smaller South African peaks, and summited Mt. Meru, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Blanc, Mt. Baker and Mt. Kalapathar.

What do you love about mountaineering? “The freedom of climbing and the challenge of pushing beyond my obvious limits.”

What do you bring to the team? “I bring over 20 years of experience as a high altitude mountaineer. I started with no experience in 1995 and steadily built up a climbing portfolio, which positions me as someone who can assist, guide and advise the team.”

Your message to female entrepreneurs? “We were born for this! We have the fortitude, the drive and the endurance to start, build, scale and sustain businesses.”

Introducing Tumi Mphahlele

Tumi is director and shareholder at IG3N and Amperion Energy – two companies in the renewable energy sector that she co-founded and leads. Tumi is also experienced in the execution of complex projects and programmes and has served as GM for Corporate Strategy at the SABS and the Development Bank of SA.

Tumi is a recreational endurance athlete with a keen interest in mountain sports. She has successfully climbed three of the seven summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus and Mt. Aconcagua – and has ambitions to complete the others over the next few years. She has also summited other mountain peaks of varying altitudes in Africa and South America. Tumi is also a hiker, a mountain biker, an ultra-distance road and trail runner, and has completed seven Comrades Marathons and six Two Oceans Marathons.

She battled ill health with external iliac artery endofibrosis from 2016 to 2018, and after two operations late last year, she summited Aconcagua in December 2018.

Why climb Mt. Everest? “It represents an opportunity to break one of the major barriers that seems to be largely out of reach for women, especially African women. Being part of the team that will make history is a fantastic opportunity because I believe in the process. We will also practically demonstrate to many young women that they too, in their many areas of life, can reach for the sky and achieve whatever they set their minds to.”

What strengths do you bring to the team? “I have the mental and the physical strength and the fighting spirit and temperament to attempt such a feat and stay the course. I have a strong work ethic and an ability to practice objectivity, even under intense pressure. I get fulfilment from achieving the goals that I set for myself.”

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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