FOR 24 hours she was on top of the world.
Record-breaking Hampshire student Becky Bellworthy, 20, celebrated after becoming the youngest British female to conquer Everest.
Yet her time as record holder was short-lived as the next day 18-year-old Leanna Shuttleworth, who lives in Dubai, took over as youngest female Briton to scale the world’s highest mountain.
Becky, from Romsey, reached the summit, 29,035ft above sea level, at 6am local time on Saturday.
She was part of an expedition which set off for the summit from Camp 4 on the South Col at 9pm on Friday.
After climbing in the dark for about eight hours, Becky’s party neared the top of the mountain. As they made their ascent they could see the sunrise over the curvature of the earth.
Having made a rapid descent Becky’s team were back at Camp 4 by 10am. The climbers spent an uncomfortable night there, at 26,000ft, in their tiny tents which were constantly buffeted by high winds.
Becky’s triumph came a year on from a major setback which threatened to end her climbing career.
The determined medical student was taken off Everest last year suffering from altitude sickness.
Initially it was feared Becky had suffered a mini-stroke while at Camp 2, 6,400m above sea level after she complained of paralysis down her left side. An MRI scan revealed no signs of stroke and it was believed that Becky may have suffered a severe form of migraine.
This time Becky suffered nothing more than frost nip on two toes and some big blisters but was still able to make the descent to base camp on Sunday, where she was able to phone home.
Her mother Anne said she’d undergone a mixture of emotions while waiting to hear news from Nepal.
“I was shaking all day, I was so excited,” said Anne.
She said she would have been far more anxious had she known about the tragedy which had beset other expeditions on Saturday.
Three climbers returning from the summit died and two others are missing, the Nepalese government confirmed this week.
Tragedy A German, a Nepal-born Canadian and a Korean died on Saturday while making their descent from the peak after a wind storm swept the mountain later on Saturday.
“The first I knew about the deaths was when Becky phoned on Sunday,” said Mrs Bellworthy.
“There was a very narrow window of opportunity for reaching the summit and Becky was lucky to get there before the winds became too strong.”
Reaching the summit of Everest is unlikely to be the end of Becky’s adventures.
She has a “to do before I’m 25 list” which included cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End and swimming the Channel, all of which will have to be fitted in around her medical studies.
Her mum praised the University of Southampton for allowing her extended leave to take part in the expedition.
Becky’s ascent of Everest has been raising money for the charity Women for Women, which helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives.