I believe I was born on a lucky and brilliant day because I’m a naturally happy and very positive person, however, on that day I also believe someone said, let’s have a laugh and remove the part of the brain that says, “you mustn’t do that, it’s impossible”.
From a young age I was leaping from trees and swinging out of the barn on the farm I grew up on. Fear didn’t make an appearance in my life until I was three years old when I was attacked by a cockerel and I’ve been scared of birds ever since. That aside, I‘ve found my own wings with paragliding and I’ve always had an insatiable spirit for adventure.
For many years my plan was simple, I was going to be a farmer and leave school when I was 16. Perfect! Things don’t always work out as you think they might though. At 12 one of my teachers suggested that if I applied myself, I had more potential academically than I realised, so I did and I did! I completed my GCES’s, A-levels & Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and embracing my love for sport and the outdoors set off into the unknown.
At 18 I found myself deep in the heart of the French Alps. Every morning I saw Mt Blanc out of my bedroom window and I had no clue that this mountain would come to represent the beginning of one of my greatest passions – big mountain climbing!
After a few years of work, travel and a moderate amount of sport, I got involved with endurance adventure racing with a group of friends. It was with those same friends that I climbed my first big mountain in South America. In 2004 they were off to climb Aconcagua in Argentina, at 6,975m, the highest peak in the western hemisphere, and I wanted to go to. Lack of experience, I realised, can be overcome with an experienced and solid team around you, a good level of fitness and a massive dose of the right mental attitude. That mountain lead to more mountains and in 2008 I Summited Cho Oyu, it’s just 600m lower than Everest and that made me realise that maybe Everest wasn’t out of the question?
Alongside climbing mountains I’m a keen skier, paraglider, motorbike rider and all round adventurer. A few years ago I hatched a plan to ride a motorbike down to the south of France, climb Mt Blanc and fly from the summit. Against the odds, I managed it. Only afterwards discovering that I was the first British woman to fly from the top.
Flying hasn’t been the only method I’ve used to get down from mountains, by foot was the first experience, after that my snowboard and I even used a bum board to get down from Cho Oyu making me the worlds highest ever bum-boarder.
Through my experiences, adventures, work and travels I’ve been able to meet some amazing people, create a career that I love and live the life that I dare to embrace. It’s down to my family that I’m sure I developed the confidence to say yes to opportunities and as a result of that I think, “why not?”, when I suspect other people think, “definitely not!”. My motivation to do things is born out of wanting to feel and experience as much as I can, to learn and grow, to make a difference to other people, to have a brilliant time (where possible) and to turn possibilities into realities. Life is short.
My aim isn’t to encourage people to do what I do, unless of course they want to. What I hope I can achieve through sharing my adventures and experiences is a reaction; to stir something up inside of others, that perhaps inspires, maybe motivates, hopefully entertains but most importantly I hope to give people a message, that whatever their dream or goal or plan is, ridiculously big or so small it seems insignificant, it’s really worth going for and doing something about. The journey there might lead to something quite different and the end result may or may not be as you thought BUT there’s really nothing quite like that feeling of energy, spirit and life that runs through every part in your body when you take action.
When I was born my sister Jo was 15months old. She couldn’t say Louise (that was my intended name!) so she called me Ease, then Peas, then Squashypeas and then finally just Squash! Throughout my life I’ve always been Squash and as far as I’m concerned my name is Squash, if I hear Louise it usually means there’s somebody nearby called Louise or I’m in trouble – either way, I don’t respond!
It’s a load of pants… literally! For as long as I can remember I’ve chosen the knickers that I will wear for the day based on what I’ll be doing but more importantly based on how I’m feeling. Why? Because I believe,
“If your knickers are right, everything goes right!”.
I’m sure reading this you will agree with me that if you look good and like what you are wearing then you will feel good. Your knickers are the very foundation of this.
When I began to climb mountains I learnt that kit, more specifically, the weight of your kit, is crucial. Everything must be kept to a minimum. Therefore it is widely accepted that you take 3-5 pairs of underwear. Not all advice is good advice and just because that’s how it’s done definitely doesn’t mean that’s how it has to continue to be done.
When I climbed Mustagata, a 28 day trip, I took an equal number of knickers to the number of days I was away! I realised along with the whole knickers thing that there are also other perceptions about expeditions that I think can make the difference, for some people, of being comfortable and happy or not.
For all you hardcore, bearded mountain men this may not be for you and I totally respect that the non-knicker changing, let’s get filthy approach, is acceptable too. However, if you care to be a little cleaner and more comfortable then this next bit might be worth a read.
And one last thing, throw away your old, worn out knickers, invest in some really lovely new ones!