About Lydia

Lydia is a mountaineer and Mountain Guide living by the side of Lake Hawea, near Wanaka, New Zealand, with her partner Dean Staples and a cat called Koshka.

In 1988 Lydia became the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen. To date she is the only New Zealander to have climbed Everest without oxygen, and has climbed Everest six times. She has made a total of 10 ascents over 8000m, and been on more than 35 expeditions over 6000m.

Lydia is a passionate mountaineer, an IFMGA International Mountain & Ski Guide, holds the Canadian Level 2 “Avalanche Forecasting”, a registered Physiotherapist, BHSc(Physio), and is a professional Inspirational Speaker.

Lydia Bradey: Going Up Is Easy

In 2015, Lydia released a book “Lydia Bradey: Going Up Is Easy” with Laurence Fearnley (Penguin/ Random House), about her first female oxygen-free ascent of Everest, adventures and climbs.

In 2020 Lydia’s book was translated into French, re-titled “On ne m’a pas vole l’Everest” and published by Les editions Paulsen, Collection Geurin, Chamonix, France.

You can find Lydia’s book here

Lydia is passionate about inspiring people to be resilient, motivated and self-advocating, and to see the humour in life’s events.


The first woman in the world to climb Everest without Oxygen (1988), Lydia went on her first Himalayan expedition in 1984.

In 1987 she was probably the first woman in the world to climb an “8000er”, alpine-style (one push, bottom to summit) and without oxygen.

In the early ‘80s (1981-82) Lydia spent nine months of her life in Yosemite Valley, California, then the world Mecca for “Aid” rock-climbing. She climbed 10 “Big Walls” – huge rock cliffs, each taking up to 9 days to climb; making 7 first female ascents.

Lydia climbs both professionally as a guide and independently for personal reward.
She has climbed and ski toured in Europe, Kashmir and Kyrgyzstan, and has made first ascents of mountains in Pakistan, China and on the Antarctic Peninsula.

In 2017, Lydia was in a small team to make the first NZ ascent of the world’s 7th highest mountain, Dhaulagiri, 8157m, Nepal. She was the first Kiwi woman to stand on the summit of the world’s 12th highest Broad Peak in Pakistan, in 2019, and the third Kiwi and first woman to climb/ guide Everest from both the South, Nepal and the North , Tibet, China in 2019 on her 6th Everest ascent.

Since COVID Lydia has taken joy in exploring more of the New Zealand mountains and wild places.

Mountain and Ski Guiding

Lydia is the only woman to have successfully guided Everest more than twice (5x).

Other high altitude guided ascents include Ama Dablam 6828m 3x, Cho-Oyu (8201m) the world’s 6th highest, in Nepal, Peak Lenin (7134m) Kyrgyzstan, twice been on Ojos del Salado (6893m) Chile, the world’s highest volcano, Alpamayo (5947m) Peru, Aconcagua (6962m) Argentina, and twice Mt Vinson (4892m) in Antarctica.
Lydia has led multiple expeditions to the highest peaks in Outer Mongolia, and has ski-tour guided in northern Kashmir, and the Last Degree (111km) to the South Pole.

Her guiding speciality is high altitude, remote and extreme-environment mountains and terrain. She is particularly interested in the physiology of climbing at altitude and the objective of maximising her client’s performance (both physical and mental) at altitude and in extreme environments.

Professional Speaking

From a background of being the worst in sports at school and avoiding all sports-days, Lydia has developed a profession of excellence based in extreme physical environments.

In her inspiring presentations Lydia is able to share the personal journey of overcoming insecurity, fear and discomfort to achieve outstanding successes and personal satisfaction.

Passionate about the maximising the processes involved in big projects such as climbing Everest, Lydia believes qualities such as resilience, grit, and a growth mindset in overcoming challenges are concepts as equally at home in the office as on the rock face.

Lydia delivers her message with lively humour and some gripping anecdotes in a way to which the audience can relate, be entertained, yet come away thinking.


Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

NZ, 2020

In the New Zealand Government’s New Year’s Honours Lydia was awarded the title of an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to mountaineering.

Lydia Bradey and Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy


Wellington, NZ, 2018

“On behalf of the She Moves, She Leads, We Win Committee I’d like to thank you for being part of the symposium last week and for your excellent key note speech and great reflections on the ‘She Talks’ session. It was a privilege to have you join us and share the story of your journey in sport and recreation and some of your insights and lessons learnt along the way. Your presentation was powerful, entertaining and inspirational and was a fantastic way to finish up what was a great day. You truly are a legend – not just in the mountaineering scene but in the wider sport and recreation sector and are a role model for many including myself!”

Sarah Murray
Community Partnerships Manager
Parks, Sports and Recreation
Wellington City Council

Tainui, Waikato, NZ, August, 2018:

“Lydia’s story is inspiring, captivating, and one that connected to our graduates on a completely new level. Approaching our grads with high risk, real life situations from a completely different walk of life allowed for them to see the importance of ownership and accountability in a new light. The grads were engaged throughout the presentation and many of her key messages resonated with the work that our graduates are embarking upon within our business today.”

Ryan Jacobs
Programme Coordinator
DOWNER Group Ltd
New Zealand


Mt Everest, 8848m, April – May 2018:

“I have had the pleasure of being guided on a number of mountain expeditions by Lydia, most recently to the summit of Everest in April/May 2018. Being ex-military, have served as an infantry officer, and being a professional guide, I am a pretty hard task master with very high expectations. I am thrilled to say that Lydia has always measured up and more. Her attention to detail, focus on the task at hand, professional skills, manner with clients and her ability to lead in extremely trying circumstances is exemplary. Of course with rigorous undertakings like mountain expeditions you put ultimate trust in your guide. I would have no hesitation in putting my life in Lydia’s hands again…”
Brad Horn, Managing Director, Epic Private Journeys

Ski Touring, New Zealand, 2018:

“As someone who has climbed and ski toured with many outstanding guides in the US and New Zealand, I can say that Lydia stands in a league of her own. Her decades’ long experience in various high-altitude and extreme environments gives her the type of knowledge and authority that’s rare to come by. As a climber and ski tourer, I was eager to absorb and learn from Lydia as much as possible. Spending time in the mountain with her taught me a lot about systematically managing all aspects of expedition life, taking care of myself, being prepared for all kinds of emergencies and making decisions in unforgiving environments.
Most of all, having Lydia as my guide helped me strengthen my own independent thinking and ability to muster my confidence from the inside. Plus, she is really fun and has an amazing gift of storytelling, which puts everyone at ease and makes them laugh after a hard day on the mountain. Being with Lydia has made me a better climber, skier but more importantly, a better person. I look forward to having her as my guide in future adventures!”
– Lisa Kostova, Entrepreneur and mountaineer, USA

Aoraki/ Mt Cook, NZ, 3724m, 2011:

“I approached Lydia when I decided to climb Mt Cook for my 50th birthday, after hearing her interviewed on Radio NZ and thinking ‘she’s the guide for me’.
I had climbed before, but had some previous confidence denting experiences, and had no-one to climb with. I didn’t want to be ‘dragged up’, but be an active part of a climbing team, with the support of a guides expertise. My focus was on the experience more than the summit.
Lydia soon sussed me out and met my expectations. It was great for me to have a skilled female guide; but more than that we had fun! Lydia pushed me just enough, while keeping me safe, and also allowed me to feel I was contributing to the climb and the team work.
I learned new skills, ate awesome meals, laughed till I nearly fell over, talked endlessly and generally had the time of my life.
I’ll never forget the feeling of reaching the summit; the beauty, achievement, joy and grace of the moment.
Thank you Lydia for an unforgettable adventure.”
– Fiona Blair

Luxury Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal, September 2018:

…”we just had a to write to say a HUGE personal thank you from both of us. We had the time of our lives and you helped us to achieve a goal that at times didn’t seem possible for us to achieve together. You were strong, supportive, encouraging and fantastic with the First Aid Kit.

As six ‘adventurers’ we had a trip filled with hard work, fun, laughter and emotion and despite only knowing [two of the members] you managed to integrate yourself with ease into our group and yet still look after our welfare and safety in a truly professional manner – with the aid of the odd beer and glass of wine to keep you sane…!”
– Philip & Penny Walker, September 2018, Everest Base Camp Trek, AC