Blog Mountains of Inspiration: Top Female Adventurers to Invigorate Your Audience

Mountains of Inspiration: Top Female Adventurers to Invigorate Your Audience

There’s nothing like a thrilling adventure to get your blood rushing. For some this might be the daily commute into work, or if you’re like me, it’s the thrill of riding a wave, climbing a cliff or rafting down a river.

We have an incredible abundance of adventurers who take on challenges not readily classified as calculated thrill-seeking activities, but none the less they tackle these challenges head on. With everything from sailing or rowing around the world, climbing up the highest mountains, tackling the cold in Antarctica and completing the London marathon in a bionic suit, these women had a vision and tackled challenges they faced with integrity. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how inspired and motivated any audience will feel after hearing their stories.

With incredible abilities to solve problems on the fly, try to stay on board as these adventures take to the stage to share their journeys with us all.

An extreme endurance runner who has run more kilometres than most people have driven, Alexandra Panayotou convinces senior executive teams and individuals why we need to change to bring out the best in all of us. Alex draws on her exceptional athletic achievements to enrich her professional capability and programs as well as the recent fight she had with breast cancer. Convincing audiences that if we approach life with a positive attitude, are willing to change and adapt our behaviour, lifestyle, and habits, we can deal with our obstacles and live life to the fullest.


In January 2012 Felicity Aston skied 1744km in 59 days across Antarctica with no help from machines, making her the first person in the world to do so purely by muscle power. Then, in 2009, she led a 38-day mission across the Antarctic comprising of more international women than on any previous South Pole expedition. Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole document the process from start to finish. Before her famous South Pole adventure, she has led several other equally challenging expeditions including the first British women’s crossing of Greenland; a trip to Iceland for young people with brain injuries and an all-female team in the 500km Polar Challenge to the magnetic north pole. Sharing her incredible stories of polar adventure with stunning film and photographs, Felicity’s motivational stories are truly inspiration. 

Successfully rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Debra Searle inspires all who meet her. Debra's story begins when her partner left her alone at sea. The sceptics gave her two days tops, but 111 days later she rowed into Port St Charles, Barbados. Considered the weakest competitor in the race, her confident mental attitude pulled her through. Debra uses her journey of discovery during the race to powerfully, but subtly, draw out key business and personal lessons as she speaks from the heart with great humour and stunning video footage, Debra’s talks illustrate, in a very human way, what we are all capable of if we have the right attitude.

Reaching the top of Mt Everest as an experienced mountaineer is a tough challenge, but conquering this without ever been climbing, well that’s something else. Bonita Norris is the youngest British woman to conquer the mighty peak, and delights audiences with her rivetingly rocky journey from novice climber to standing on top of the world. Overnight, Bonita had to become an entrepreneur and athlete, training for this challenge and raising £50,000. On the 17th of May 2010, at the age of 22, Bonita took a record-breaking step onto the top of Everest. An icon for British adventurers, and a youth ambassador, Bonita is a beacon of what it is possible to achieve with enough determination.

International sailing star Dee Caffari motivates and inspires all who see her. On May 18th 2006, Dee sailed into the record books with an extraordinary feat, becoming the first female to circumnavigate the world ‘the wrong way' without stopping for the entirety of the 29,100miles. Dee spent six months at sea, facing extremely treacherous weather conditions, life-threatening circumstances and the wrath of mother nature. In 2004 she was picked to lead a team of amateurs in the challenging Global Challenge Yacht Race, powering through adversity as the only female skipper. With a contagious self-belief paired with an inspiring positive attitude, Dee is an expert on leadership, motivation, teamwork and overcoming self-limitations.

Motivational speaker, author and climber Cathy O’Dowd was the world’s first woman to climb Mount Everest from both the North and South sides. Now I don’t know about you, but I feel like climbing up one side would almost be enough! Using her expedition as a case study for the corporate world, as Cathy drove change management on the treacherous mountain face, she can do the same for businesses. Encouraging others to think like an explorer, Cathy can aid the instigation of change. A natural storyteller with an incredible tale, Cathy is consummate and charismatic motivational speaker.

Paralympic cycling champion Karen Darke is an adventurers, author and motivational speaker, who at the age of 21 became paralysed from the chest down after a climbing fall. Finding fortune in misfortune, Karen adopted a strength of mind that would lead her into seemingly unachievable situations and to persevering until she found success. Challenging physical and mental barriers, Karen has achieved the unthinkable. Sit-skiing; hand-cycling; triathlons, marathons and kayaking in some of the most inhospitable places on earth, are just a small example of Karen’s incredible achievements. She shares her motivational story and extraordinary life, delivering business lessons and educate audiences on how to overcome life’s adversities.

Dame Ellen MacArthur made yachting history in 2005 when she became the fastest solo sailor to circumnavigate the globe. She remains the UK’s most successful offshore racer ever but became acutely aware of the finite nature of the resources on which our linear economy relies and retired from professional sailing to launch the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010. Working to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, they have successfully launched global initiatives on plastics and textiles and have developed innovation networks with educators, businesses, and governments. Adept at turning lessons learned at sea into invaluable business messages, Ellen engages with business leaders, policy makers and education stakeholders to accelerate the transition to a regenerative circular economy.

Polar Explorer Ann Daniels is a world record holder and one of Britain’s leading female explorers, whose hard work and belief led her to being selected from over 200 more experienced women to take part in her first North Pole expedition. After conquering the South Pole, in 2002 Ann became the first woman in history to ski to the North and South Poles as part of all women teams. Experiencing temperatures as low as -50C and dealing with various encounters with Polar bears, she has sledge-hauled over 2000 miles, in the most inhospitable environments in the world. Understanding the importance of good planning, hard work and a positive attitude in the most difficult circumstances, and as a Polar guide and the only leader of all 3 Catlin Arctic surveys, Ann is living proof that good leader-ship, teamwork and believing in yourself does make a difference. 


A certified Swiss Mountain Guide, Ski Instructor, and licensed helicopter pilot based in Switzerland, Evelyne Binsack is an accomplished technical climber. With experience ranging from expeditions to the Karakorum in Pakistan to climb a 6000m peak, Fitz-Roy in Patagonia in 1996, and various technical climbs in the French and Swiss Alps, but her favourite accomplishments are her 3 climbs of the North Face of the Eiger. Everest was Evelyne´s first time to high altitude over 8000m, but according to her teammates she climbed brilliantly on summit day, for the most part climbing by herself via Everest´s North East Ridge. Exhibited enormous strength by returning all the way back down to ABC after reaching the summit, Evelyne’s story is one of incredible courage, perseverance and goal setting.


Sarah Outen rowed across the Indian Ocean alone, a journey of commitment to life and survival against the incredible strength that is mother nature. It took 124 days during which she scooped a few Guinness World Records including being the first woman and youngest person to solo the Indian and the youngest woman to solo any ocean. Sarah endured some of the most extreme conditions in vast and remote environments, which included the feat of rowing through a hurricane in the Atlantic sea, but she never gave up no matter what was thrown at her. Sarah shares her motivational journey about overcoming unimaginable adversities and the importance of having a strong team behind you.

Do you feel inspired? Because we sure do. These women have faced very different, but equally as challenging encounters. Problem-solving on the go, it sometimes takes these extreme conditions to understand the fundamental importance of goal setting, motivation and endurance. And what a better way to learn then hear from the experts who have experienced this in the flesh, and who have some of the most incredible stories to share!

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