Hungarian nature photographer conquers Mount Everest
Alexandra Németh is a sports and nature photographer. Also, the second Hungarian woman to climb Mt. Everest, after Anita Ugyan. She is also the first Hungarian to complete the Seven Summits. Csupasport.hu published an interview with Alexandra Németh about her experiences.
Do you consider yourself a mountaineer?
“No, I am a professional photographer and marketing manager. Just an ordinary woman.”
She is 34 years old and this May she climbed Mt. Everest as the second Hungarian woman. She also climbed the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. We mentioned her plans earlier this year and now we can report on her achievemenets.
Yes, I climbed the highest summits of the seven continents in less than 4 years, but I also climbed other mountains during that time. I still do not think that this makes me a mountaineer.
I have been living in London for 12 years. I was taking photos and started a photography company in 2012. At that time I was mostly shooting sports related photos. During that year I visited the Himalayas to get my life in order, to learn, to spend some time outside of the civilisation. Of course, I took my camera with me and started taking photos of the mountains. I climbed the Gokyo Ri, the summit is at 5300 metres, just to have a picture of the sunrise. I never even thought about seriously getting into mountaineering. Later I went to Scotland and the Alps, took some pictures, uploaded them onto my website. And I was surprised to see different galleries offering me a chance to show my work at an exhibition, later they even offered me jobs.
I travel a lot. In 2014 I had an idea about climbing the Seven Summits to test my limits and of course, to take unique pictures of places that not a lot of people get to visit. It took some planning, and I decided not to start with the hardest. I was researching the best time to climb certain summits and then, two months later, I was taking photos on the highest peak of Elbrus. During that year I also climbed the Kilimanjaro in Africa and the Vinson on the Antarctic. Oh, and Mt Blanc, but that is not technically part of the Seven Summits.
The winds and the quickly changing weather can make it impossible to complete a climb or at least make it very challenging. In 2015 I was part of a 10 person expedition. Of course, the others were all men. One thing that made the Denali hard was that we were responsible for keeping the mountain absolutely clean. We had to set up our tents then break it down, dragging a 20 kg bag with us, and nobody cared that I was a woman. This was my fourth mountain in the Seven Summits.
And the next stop: South America
I spent Christmas on the mountain. I brought my presents with me and opened them up there. My boyfriend gave me pictures and small gifts that energised me and helped me to go on. There was another expedition there, and they had people turn back and go home almost every day because of the strong winds. So it was nice that I had something to motivate me.
I reached the summit on January the 2nd and started back down on a different route. But I was so exhausted I could barely crawl into the tent. I had fever and I thought I was imagining someone talking in Hungarian in front of the tent. Then I found out that I was not imagining it, there really were two other Hungarians there ready to take on the Aconcagua.
I have a fear of heights, so I need to concentrate and really be aware of what I am doing when I am climbing. The only time I really felt my agoraphobia kick in, was when I was rock climbing on the Puncak Jaya and had to get through a cleft. At the end I was the first of my group to get to the summit, but I wanted to wait for them because, you know, it is nice to celebrate together.
Left the hardest summit for the last
Mt Everest was a 6-week expedition. By that time I learned my lesson and did not choose a cheap company. Our leader was the American Michael Hamill, who had been to the Everest 6 times before.
Taking pictures at the summit of Mount Everest is always risky. You need to take off your gloves, but if you do, you could get frostbite in just a few seconds. Alexandra Németh has suffered from frostbite after climbing on the Antarctic so she was more careful now, but still prepared for the worst.
You need to connect your gloves to your wrist, otherwise you could lose them. Snow blindness is also another danger, so I always kept my goggles on. I even brought a spare one. I was climbing with an oxygen mask from Camp Three on, so at least I was fully conscious, and not just suffering through the experience.
I was practically running up the mountain. It was so beautiful and I was enjoying that I could use my muscles and I even forgot to be afraid.
We did not sleep much because we wanted to get ahead of the other groups. Of course, looked like everyone else had the same idea, so we still had to wait in line. That meant that we were using up our oxygen while waiting to attempt the climb to the summit. Soon, my mask broke, so I took it off to get some oxygen from the air, but I felt like I was suffocating. I was climbing without an oxygen mask on 4500m altitude. Finally, I replaced the broken mask with the help of a Sherpa from our group. That was one of the best days of my life.
There is going to be a photography exhibition in Hungary featuring Alexandra Németh’s photos from the Seven Summits. The exhibition is going to be sometime during this fall, but we do not know any other details yet. Until then you can check out her work on alexfineartphotography.com or her Instagram at alex7summits.
Featured image: Instagram.com