Cathy O’Dowd is the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain, from both its north and south sides. Cathy is South African and grew up in Johannesburg, where she began her climbing and where she eventually became the first African to climb Everest.
After the expedition the South African government passed a Resolution congratulating Cathy and her fellow team members, saying that:
“Cathy O’Dowd joins illustrious women in South Africa who are demonstrating that women have come into their own and are contributing to the many glories achieved by our nation.”
She had a masters degree in Journalism and Media Studies, but makes her living as an inspirational speaker, sharing with her corporate clients the insights she discovered in the Himalaya – about herself and about individuals and teams under intense stress in the face of overwhelming challenge. She has worked as a speaker for over 15 years and is a Fellow of the Professional Speaking Association in the UK.
Cathy has climbed and skied on mountains across the world, as well as travelled in the Arctic with dog-sleds. She now lives in Andorra, giving her easy access to the rock and snow of the Pyrenees as well as to the markets of Europe. She plans to return to the Himalaya in the summer of 2012 to attempt a new route on Nanga Parbat (9th highest mountain in the world).
Cathy has always been interested in using her experiences to help others, first with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, then moving to more on-the-ground charities like the Kathmandu Village Girls project. Now she is proud to be part of the spirit of Astraia, using the power of female leadership to aid women across the globe.