This 45-Year-Old Teacher Is the Fastest Woman to Climb Mount Everest

This 45-Year-Old Teacher Is the Fastest Woman to Climb Mount Everest
Presented by Spartan Training®

We LIVE for stories of perseverance, grittiness, and determination. We hear them all the time from racers in our community, but we also love to report on inspirational, badass stories from OUTSIDE the Spartan Universe — stories that we can learn from, that can help us become even more unbreakable. In Tough News, we share what we're hearing, why it's important, and why Spartans need to pay attention.

Tsang Yin-hung made history on May 23 when she became the fastest woman to climb Mount Everest. The 45-year-old Hong Kong native reached the summit in an absurd 25 hours and 50 minutes. She shattered the previous record of 39 hours and 6 minutes, set by Phunjo Jhangmu Lama in 2018, by more than 13 hours.

During the 11,642-foot ascent from base camp (17,390 feet) to the summit (29,032 feet), Tsang stopped just twice, according to reports.

After returning to base camp, the former schoolteacher told reporters that she wasn't trying to set any records. She was simply trying to prove herself. 

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“I just feel kind of relief and happy because I am not looking for breaking a record,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I feel relieved because I can prove my work to my friends, to my students.”

Less than two weeks before setting the record, Tsang attempted — and failed — to climb Everest, as poor weather forced her to turn back before she could reach the top. Devastated but not deterred, she tried again as soon as the opportunity presented itself. The result was an indelible spot in the record books.

"I always tell my working team, my friends, 'When you aim high, expect high,'" Tsang told reporters.

In pursuit of her dream of becoming the first woman from Hong Kong to reach the top, Tsang ditched the security of a traditional job and dove completely headfirst into conquering Everest. According to Newsweek, she quit her position as a life education teacher at a secondary school and made Mount Everest her sole focus. Four years later, she's a global phenomenon.

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The Spartan Takeaway

Tsang's remarkable journey teaches us four important lessons that we hold sacred at Spartan.

1. Age Is Just a Number

At 45 years old, Tsang would be considered by many to be "past her prime." Clearly, somebody who is "past their prime" is not setting Mount Everest records. You can accomplish incredible things at any age. Just ask 79-year-old Paul Lachance and 93-year-old (!) Richard Montgomery.

2. Don't EVER Stop Trying

Don't finish the race? Don't get the job? Don't break your personal record? That's OK. Just keep trying — and trying, and trying — until you do. Just days after barely missing out on the summit, Tsang returned to base camp and tried again. That couldn't have been easy. Her reward for pushing herself? A world record and worldwide attention.

3. Aim for the Stars

Tsang wasn't satisfied with becoming just another expert climber. She set her sights on Everest, the highest mountain on Earth. It's amazing what you can do when you set your mind to something, and truly believe you can do it. In that frame of mind, the seemingly impossible can become reality.

4. Take Chances in Pursuit of Your Dreams

It couldn't have been easy for Tsang to leave the comfort of her job behind. There were likely doubters who believed she was making a crazy, illogical decision. But she followed her True North, chased her passion, and worked her tail off. Nobody is doubting her now.

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