Penny Webster is an amateur mountaineer who recently completed ascents of all New Zealand’s 3000m mountains. She is one of a dozen kiwis who have achieved the 3000m peak challenge since its conception in the early 1950’s.
Penny grew up in Christchurch with a life full of camping, exploring for gold, and skiing at Mt Cheeseman. As a competitive athlete she has represented New Zealand in road cycling, adventure racing and mogul skiing. She competed in the Coast to Coast nine times winning three titles, and the long standing NZ Alpine Ironman which she won six times. She says that the qualities needed to compete as an elite athlete, such as focus and discipline, are the same as those needed for big climbs. However there is a difference she believes - there is only one competitor in the climbing game and a lot more courage is needed.
In her earlier climbing years, husband Charles and Penny travelled the world climbing in Peru, Chile, USA, India, Nepal, Europe and East Africa. They traversed 25 countries at a time when adventure tourism didn’t exist. After a break from climbing she partnered up with Jim Davidson from Auckland in 2012 to climb the remaining 3000m peaks, and some classic routes such as the Torres-Tasman Traverse and North Ridge of Sefton. Last season saw Penny and Jim walk up to The Empress Hut four times and climb Hicks, Dampier and La Perouse.
Penny is passionate about the NZ high mountains. She mentors and instructs snowcraft with the NZ Alpine Club, and is a member of the club’s National Instruction Committee. She believes that we walk and climb in a privileged environment – its’ stunning beauty and peacefulness is comparable to anywhere in the world.
Penny is a teacher. She is currently writing a book about NZ mountaineers who have climbed all New Zealand’s highest mountains.
She will be speaking at New Zealand Mountain Festival about her life as mountaineer with a focus on the climbs from Empress Hut in 2016, and a historical perspective on other climbers who have embarked on climbing all New Zealand’s highest mountains.