Four South African women are training to be the first all-female African team to climb Mount Everest.

The women: Deshun Deysel, Lisa Gering, Tumi Mphahlele and Alda Waddell are training on the cliffs of Drankensberg Mountain in South Africa, with hopes of completing the record-setting climb next year.

Alda Waddell, Lisa Gering, Deshun Deysel and Tumi Mphahlele
Photo courtesy of Michael Pedro/EWN

Each of the four women does solo mental and physical training along with group training to fully prepare for the climb.

Alda Waddel tells VOA News, “There are different elements that you need to train for. It is the technical, the equipment that you need to understand. It is the physical that you need to be able to do. And then also the cold. You need to be able to manage the cold. And then lastly, it’s the altitude.”

The women each have various levels of experience with mountaineering.

Deshun Deysel is the first black South African woman to set foot on Mount Everest — doing so in 1996. She wasn’t able to reach the summit but she has scaled mountains on five continents since then.

Deysel says, “when I first started high-altitude climbing there was so few women in the mountains. If I look around now, especially in the South African climbing community, that number is definitely increased and because of that we have a greater pool of women to choose from. So why not have an all-female team?”

The four women were inspired by Saray Khumalo, a South African business executive, who in May became the first black African woman to climb the world’s highest mountain — a total of 29,028 feet.

“What excites me, even more, is that those coming behind us, behind me, effectively won’t have to struggle as much as I have had, you know. Even though we’re not born in a place where there’re mountains, there’s ice and snow and more. So, when the ladies go next year, I think it’s going to open up more doors,” says Khumalo to VOA News.

The women’s goal of scaling Mount Everest is attributed to wanting to inspire more African women to reach “the top”.