Back home record-breaking climber 'owes team her life'By Victoria Corbett
May 27, 2010
A record-breaking Wokingham woman returned triumphant this week after becoming the youngest British female to reach the summit of Mount Everest last Monday.
However, Bonita Norris, 22, of Barkham Road, faced a terrifying ordeal during her descent when she suffered a fall while attached to a rope, giving her whiplash and severe shooting pains in her spine.
Miss Norris, a media graduate of Royal Holloway University, had to be dragged back to Everest Camp Four by Sherpas after her guide on the trip, Kenton Cool, mounted a rescue mission.
She said: “Apparently I was strangely calm. I knew I was going to get down alive, there was no way I was going to give up. I was completely clear in thought, but I was scared.
“It was whiteout, so I couldn’t tell what was sky and what was snow.”
Miss Norris added: “I don’t remember much apart from the pain of being dragged across ice and rock as they attempted to get me back to camp as quickly as possible.
“My neck was blinding with pain, but I remember having conversations with the Sherpas and thinking I felt okay, bar the neck. I knew if I just let them do the job we would all be home safe.”
The rescue team reached Camp Four of Everest, where the group slept for the night.
The return to base camp took a further two days.
Miss Norris, whose boyfriend Tom Ray, 23, lives in London, climbed in a team of six people, including experienced mountaineer Kenton Cool, who broke a record himself on the expedition, which was his eighth trip to the summit.
She said: “I owe Kenton, the Sherpas and the rest of the team my life.”
Despite the dramatic end to her expedition, which has seen her raise more than £11,000 for the Global Angels charity, Miss Norris remembers the ascent as an incredible experience.
Miss Norris, who signed up to the Everest expedition just 18 months ago, said: “It was just amazing, every day I felt incredibly lucky to be there.
“I really found it a lot easier than I thought I would.”
At the summit, Miss Norris had pictures taken with flags she auctioned in aid of her charity on eBay. They contained personal messages from the winning bidders.
She remembers reaching the summit as being an “overwhelming” experience, although she also had a feeling of relief that she had reached her goal after 18 months of hard work drumming up sponsorship money and training.
Miss Norris has returned home a celebrity for her achievement, and has been interviewed by most major news television outlets and national press.
However, her dad, Patrick, from Bracknell, was proud to see his daughter on the front page of The Wokingham Times, particularly in the week his son, Gregory, a Bracknell Bees ice hockey player, was featured in the Sport section.
The Bracknell under 12s made history last week after clinching the national title for the third year in a row.
Miss Norris, who lives with her mum Jacqui Andrews and step-dad Rob in Wokingham, says she made a list of things she would do after returning from the physically gruelling expedition.
These include a barbecue, a trip to the shops to buy some “girlie clothes”, which she says she has had to forgo these last 18 months while preparing for Everest, and a visit to the cinema to see the film Sex and the City 2.
The ambitious former Holt School girl, who works as a disability assistant in Egham, is already planning another adventure.
She said: “I would love to go to the South Pole with an all-British female team.”
For more about Miss Norris’ expedition, click here.