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Barnsbury businesswoman on verge of mountaineering world record

PUBLISHED: 16:11 05 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:11 05 April 2016

Masha in Antarctica in December, when she climbed the 16,000ft Vinson Massif. This was the second stage of her challenge. Picture: Masha Gordon

Masha in Antarctica in December, when she climbed the 16,000ft Vinson Massif. This was the second stage of her challenge. Picture: Masha Gordon

Archant

Ten years ago, Barnsbury company director Masha Gordon couldn’t run 5km without collapsing in exhaustion.

Masha in Russia, where she climbed the 18,500ft Elbrus. She completed this on March 10, and was the fifth and most recent stage of her journey. Picture: Masha GordonMasha in Russia, where she climbed the 18,500ft Elbrus. She completed this on March 10, and was the fifth and most recent stage of her journey. Picture: Masha Gordon

Yet today, the 42-year-old is on schedule to set a Guinness World Record as the fastest ever woman to climb the highest peak in each of the seven continents – as well as trek over both poles on skis at 40 degrees below freezing.

Masha, of Milner Place, has so far reached five of the peaks and completed the South Pole in the Explorers’ Grand Slam challenge.

She is on course to finish at Denali in June, shaving three months off Vanessa O’Brien’s 11-month record.

But the most formidable stage of her journey is still to come.

This week, Masha will start her trek across the North Pole. And two weeks later, she faces Everest, the highest of them all.

Not that she is fazed. Speaking from Svalbard, Norway, as she awaited her journey to the North Pole, Masha told the Gazette this afternoon: “I have climbed a hell of a lot and feel good about my ability.

“You have to be efficient exerting your energy. There’s a lot of emotional upheaval so if you can control it, you can wrestle the challenge piece by piece.”

It’s quite a turnaround from the girl who failed PE at school.

“I was very unsporty as a child,” Masha laughs. “I was academic so it didn’t concern me.

“But I started skiing in my 20s and climbing in my 30s. I fell in love with it: the problem solving and amazing feeling when you get to the top.”

Though prolonged periods away from family “haven’t been easy”, Masha is determined to set the record in the name of her new charity Grit & Rock, which helps deprived teenage girls take up mountaineering.

“I’m in love with adventure,” she said. “We need to get kids into this.”

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