Pauline and Phil Sanderson on Lobuje East with Mount Everest in the background

World’s longest climb record breaker in mental health push


A World record breaker who together with her husband became only the second ever married couple to conquer Everest is setting out to show how positive mindset works in the face of extreme adversity.

As part of University Mental Health Day on 5 March, Lakes-based adventurers Pauline and Phil Sanderson will be sharing a journey starting at the Dead Sea, cycling 5,000 miles across eight countries before reaching Tibet to climb Everest.

University of Cumbria technician, Phil Sanderson, and his wife Pauline, who works for the Lake District Foundation, are speaking at Ambleside campus about their epic expeditions and how pushing yourself can help with mental health issues.

In a lifetime of mountaineering, cycling and river expeditions in Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe, it is the 2006 challenge of travelling by bike and foot from the world’s lowest point to its highest, which dominates.

Pauline, as part of the world record breaking EVERESTMAX team, set out from Jordan on a bike and pedaled to Kathmandu, where she joined Phil and together, they went on to climb 8,848m Everest.

She explained: “Some people see challenges as overwhelming. However, if you break them down, they are the same as so many of the everyday things we face in life.

“For instance, getting to the start line of university is full of planning, preparations, tests and trepidation, mixed with excitement and fear of failure.

“Getting fit and having a focus is a big distraction from overthinking. Endorphins are produced during exercise, leading to positive feelings.

“We’re never very far from mental health issues and the recent tragic death of television personality, Caroline Flack, brings home just how vulnerable people are. We know students can struggle and want to do what we can to bring some constructive messages.”

The couple say while Everest was not the hardest technical challenge they have undertaken, it was in terms of commitment and had the biggest consequences for any small mistakes.

Pauline added: “We’ve climbed so much together we know when something isn’t right without asking. It’s a good reminder that no mountain is worth taking unnecessary risks for and it’s ok to turn back.”

Their talk, Positive Mindset in Extreme Conditions, will focus on ‘enjoying the journey’.

As Phil explained; “That’s the theme of our lives. Choose a challenge, an activity that you’ll be interested in or stimulated by. Do it to the best of your ability so you don’t live with regret. If you enjoy each part of the journey, it will never be a waste of a day.”

The EVERESTMAX team smashed the record for the fastest time from the lowest to highest place on earth.

The talk at Percival Lecture Theatre, starting at 6pm, will be supporting the Lake District Foundation. Tickets cost £5 and are available on:


Picture shows Pauline and Phil Sanderson on Lobuje East with Mount Everest in the background.