Person of Interest: Mt. Everest Climber Charlotte Ding

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

What inspired you to make this climb?

After I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro when I was 13, my uncle (who had climbed Everest) suggested I try the North Col (a climbing destination on Everest). From there, I could see the top. I said, “One day I will summit.”

What was it like to write a goodbye letter to your family beforehand, in case of death?

The main idea was to say thank you to my parents. They supported my dream. And I said, “I’m sorry for making you guys worry about my grades.” It was sad to write, and I hoped they would never see it. After I summitted, I threw it away. It was bad luck.

How did you respond to seeing the bodies of fallen climbers along the route?

On the day of the summit there were about 10 bodies. One corpse was really close to me—like 2 centimeters from my feet. After I saw the bodies, I mentally got stronger. I thought, “I don’t want to be the next person to stay on the mountain forever.”

And what about the summit?

That day was cloudy, and it was white everywhere. It wasn’t perfect, yeah. The next day, I was able to see the sunrise and the sunset from transition camp (farther down the mountain). That was more memorable.

What’s ahead for you this fall, and in your sport?

I’m so excited about my college life; I feel like USC is my dream school. I think my major will be sports medicine. I want to help athletes. And I want to finish what we call the “seven plus two,” the tallest mountain on each continent, plus the North and South Poles.

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