Naperville’s Lucy Westlake off to tackle new record with K2 climb

Lucy Westlake, atop a mountain
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Mountain-climbing record-setter Lucy Westlake is off to tackle another peak.

The Naperville native left Thursday for Islamabad, Pakistan: the first step in her journey to climb K2, also known as Chogori, the world’s second-highest mountain after Everest.

Though not as tall as Everest, which Westlake has already conquered, K2 is generally considered a far more difficult climb.

Setting out to break another record

Westlake said that she will officially start hiking on June 20. She’ll be joined by seven men from the ages of 19 to 25 on her trek into basecamp. After that, she and her sherpa Mingma will start their climb to the summit.

With a number of unknown factors in play as per the nature of mountain climbing, Westlake is unsure how long the climb up might take. But her goal isn’t speed: it’s simply to reach the top. If she does so, at the age of 19, she will become the youngest woman to accomplish this feat.

Her progress along the way can be tracked by the public through her Garmin GPS device.

A seasoned record-setter

Breaking records is nothing new for Westlake. In 2016, at the age of 12, she became the youngest female in the world to climb the lower 48 U.S. state highpoints. Her dad, Rodney, became a record-setter with her, as the two, who climbed together, were also named the youngest father-daughter team to climb the lower 48 U.S. state highpoints.

In 2021, she set the world record as the youngest female to summit the highest point in all 50 U.S. states, at the age of 17. And again, as her father joined her on her climbs, the two became the youngest father-daughter team to reach that goal as well.

She then set her sights on the highest peak on the planet. In May of 2022, Westlake became the youngest American woman to summit Mount Everest, at the age of 18. It was the first major climb she did without her dad.

Another record to conquer on the horizon

Besides seeking to set a new record on K2, she also has another goal in mind: to become the youngest American to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam. That means summiting the highest peak on all seven continents and skiing the last degree to both the North and South poles.

She’s well on her way, having already conquered climbs of the highest mountains in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and of course Asia, thanks to Everest.

Only about 70 people in the world have accomplished the Explorer’s Grand Slam, the youngest of those being Marin Minamiya, who did so at the age of 20.

Climbing for a cause

Westlake climbs for a cause. She hopes to help raise awareness of the need for people to have access to safe, clean water around the world, in partnership with her work with nonprofit WaterStep.

And on her K2 climb, she has a special mission. She’ll be collecting ice and snow samples on the mountain, to be used by climate scientist Dr. Ulyana Horodyskj Pena in her research on black carbon and ice mass loss from the Arctic and Himalayan region.

She also hopes to inspire other young girls and women to keep climbing forward, not letting stereotypes stand in their way.

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