Video: Determined Norfolk adventurer who reached new heights after overcoming epilepsy prepares to take on Mount Everest
10:56 29 March 2014
As a teenager Selina Dicker was told she would never be able to take part in dangerous sports, drive a car or continue her passion for sailing.
But eight years on the determined adventurer has summitted three of the world’s highest peaks and is now gearing up for her toughest challenge yet - as she embarks on an expedition to climb Mount Everest.
The 36-year-old from Ranworth has overcome epilepsy to take on her mountaineering adventures and is now part of a team of nine Brits that will be taking on the world’s highest peak.
Alongside the summit attempt Miss Dicker has also set herself another challenge, as she hopes to raise a £45,000 through her epic expedition for a charity close to her heart.
Both she and her younger brother Mark, 34, were born with a cleft lip and she is now raising money for Operation Smile, which carries out free surgeries for youngsters born with clefts in more than 60 countries worldwide. Her target would fund 300 operations and she has already raised £5,000.
Miss Dicker said: “Mark and I have been really lucky because we were operated on when we were really small. Whereas kids in developing countries don’t have that automatic ability to have surgery and some don’t even know it’s available.
“It’s around £150 to complete an operation for a child that completely changes their lives.”
Having been born and brought up in Norfolk’s flat landscape, Miss Dicker first got a taste for trekking and climbing in 2005 while volunteering in Costa Rica, having taken a sabbatical from her job in finance in London.
From Costa Rica she travelled into South America to find another challenge and in Argentina, discovered Aconcagua, which at 6,961m is one of the seven summits - the highest peaks on each continent.
During that trip she did not have enough time to tackle the summit so returned in 2010 - after completing an MBA at Copenhagen Business School - to take it on.
Having grown up on Norfolk she admitted she “knew nothing about climbing” and despite not making it to the top, she was immediately bitten by the mountaineering bug.
“I was so badly prepared but it was amazing,” Miss Dicker added. “I made it to 6,000 metres and came back down thinking, I love this place I’m going to come back and will get to the top.”
After this she went on to summit Mont Blanc in 2010, Kilimanjaro in 2011 and Elbrus in Russia in 2013. She also attempted Denali in Alaska - only being stopped from reaching the 6,194m peak by bad weather - and in 2013 she returned to Argentina and successfully summitted Aconcagua.
Her interest in Everest was peaked around 18 months ago and after a group of her friends tackled it last year, she set it as her next challenge.
Miss Dicker said: “If you re-wound the clock five years and said to me ‘would you climb Everest?’, I’d be like no way, I can’t. But because I have done the other climbs along the way I feel it’s a realistic thing to attempt.
“Each time you come back down [a mountain] you’re thinking, what’s the next challenge? You push yourself a bit further each time, and your view of what’s achievable gets bigger and bigger.”
Miss Dicker flies out to Nepal tomorrow (Saturday 29th) to begin her nine week expedition - celebrating her 37th birthday next week among the mountains - and hopes to summit Everest at the end of May.
She said her epilepsy was another thing to think about while on the mountain, but it would not hold her back.
“I remember when I had my first epileptic fit when I was 18. I was told you can’t go sailing, can’t drive, can’t drink, can’t do any dangerous sports. Since then I have come a long way,” she said.
“Life’s too short to sit at home and be wrapped up in cotton wool.”
■ To follow Miss Dicker’s blog, and donate to her expedition, visit www.summit4smiles.wordpress.com