October 25, 2023
JOHOR BARU – A six-pack grandmother has ticked off the final feat on her bucket list after scaling Mount Everest base camp at the age of 73.
Suzie Oliver, known among her friends as “Iron Lady”, reached the base camp at 5,364m above sea level after a gruelling eight-day hike.
She described her feat as an emotional one in view of her age.
“Everyone wanted to take photos with me as I was like the oldest person on the trail.
“The youngest was a teenager whom I met on the way back,” she said.
Prior to her 15-day trip to Nepal last month, she ticked off two other items on her to-do list: she made it to the peak of Mount Kinabalu in May and trekked up a G7 mountain in Cameron Highlands.“I wanted to prepare myself for the trip to Everest as it was the last item on my bucket list,” Oliver said in an interview.
She and her friends started their expedition as soon as they reached an airfield in Lukla, which is 2,800m above sea level, at about 6am on the first day.
Besides two of her friends, Oliver had a guide and two porters.
She said they hiked about six or seven hours each day before resting in small motels.
“There were no roads. Just gravel everywhere and no vehicles.
“Along the way, there were people in their houses and animals.
“The weather was about 16°C during the day and dropped to minus in the night,” she said, adding that even while indoors, she would be in three layers of clothes and a blanket.
She said they reached the base camp on the eighth day.
“It was a great adventure being there.
“Beyond that point, it was all snow right to the peak,” she added.
Asked whether she plans to scale to the peak, she said her family would not permit her as it was too dangerous.
Oliver said she only started taking fitness seriously at the age of 57.
Her daughter suggested that she take part in a marathon in Singapore in 2007.
“Before that, I never did anything strenuous.
“I decided to give it a shot so I trained in the gym for several months and managed to complete the 5km stretch,” said Oliver.
In 2014, she participated in a Spartan race in Singapore alongside her daughter and granddaughter.
“People thought I was crazy but for me it was an opportunity to bond with my family,” she said, adding that she emerged top in her age group by beating almost 800 other participants in the 10km event.
Among others, she had to flip tyres that weighed up to 60kg, throw arrows and climb over walls.
“We had about 15 obstacles to overcome,” she said.
The Melaka-born Oliver, who is married to an American but lives here, said she would join cycling races, which went up to 60km up and down the valleys of Utah, whenever she went to the United States.
She previously worked as a chef in Singapore before going on mission trips with her husband.
The mother of two daughters also took part in the Sunway Iskandar Viper Challenge @ Medini in Johor.
On her next adventure, Oliver plans to go to Nepal next year to hike up another mountain.