Grandmother with towering ambition could be oldest U.S. woman to top Everest


A 65-year-old Flint, Michigan area grandmother has one towering ambition that could put her in the record books, twice.

This spring, Nancy Norris will attempt to conquer Mt. Everest. If she succeeds, she will become the oldest U.S. woman to have climbed the world’s highest peak – and the oldest woman in the world to have climbed the highest mountains on all seven continents.

The pint-size dynamo from Gaines in Genesee County, Michigan is no stranger to pushing the limits of the human body. For nearly 20 years, as a Group Exercise Coordinator and Certified Personal Trainer at Hurley Health & Fitness Center (the only medically based fitness facility in Flint, Michigan), Norris has made 26 climbs since 1998. She rock climbs, ice climbs, skydives, scuba dives, bikes, hikes, para-glides, bungee jumps and skis, among other high-adrenaline activities. She has also made a fitness video and competed in 2003 on the ESPN wilderness survival reality show, “Wild Rules,” filmed in rugged British Columbia. Golfing is likely the most sedate activity for the grandmother to four grandkids.

“Climbing is one way to push myself and set even higher goals – and it’s also part of my personal mission to bring attention to the need for Americans to embrace a healthy lifestyle and be active,” Norris said. “I want to show people of all ages that you can be responsible for your health, you can take charge and make a positive change, and you can enjoy life to the fullest.”

Norris said more than 65 percent of U.S. adults and 16 percent of U.S. children are overweight or obese, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

“In my small way, I want to show Americans of all ages that when you get off the couch, there are no limits to what you can do,” Norris said. “Fitness has been central to me as an individual and it’s something that Hurley Medical Center actively promotes. Whether you’re climbing mountains or riding a bike with your kids, staying active is crucial to enjoying a good quality of life.”

Starting in 2001, Norris has successfully climbed the highest mountains on six continents. Mt. Everest in Nepal, Asia, is the last remaining. In 2001, Norris reached base camp on Everest’s north face. Later that year, a climber just ahead of her on the Monch in Switzerland fell to his death.

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