Nguyen Thanh Nha, also known as Céline Thanh Nha, made history in 2022 by becoming the first Vietnamese woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain above sea level. Looking ahead, her aspiration for the current year is to further solidify her achievements by becoming the first Vietnamese woman to conquer the Seven Summits, including the highest peaks across all continents.
The Seven Summits include Everest in Asia, Aconcagua in South America, Denali in North America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Vinson Massif in the South Pole, and Puncak Jaya in Oceania.
To date, only one man of Vietnamese descent named Khai Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American IT engineer in California, has successfully conquered the Seven Summits.
Céline Thanh Nha, from Ho Chi Minh City, has managed to conquer six of them, including Everest, Elbrus, Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Vinson Massif, and Puncak Jaya.
In April this year, she will climb Denali to reach the goal of hitting the highest mountains across the seven continents.
|Nguyen Thanh Nha presents herself as a professional mountaineer and a talented and assertive lawyer. Photo: Supplied
Nha, now 37, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that she wanted to try many kinds of sports when she was young. At the time, she did not think of such an extreme sport as mountaineering.
She instead pursued golfing which needs less energy.
She shared that her mountaineering passion began from her career as a lawyer.
“When working for Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) as a lawyer, I had a wonderful impression on mountaineering. After returning to Vietnam, I started pursuing this sport," Nha said.
“I started my mountaineering journey like a curious child. Currently, when I set a target of conquering the Seven Summits and have reached six of them, I realized that mountaineering is not purely a passion, but a test that I am determined to pass.
“This is also a way to improve myself, take myself out of my comfort zone, and gradually have a stronger and steadier body, spirit, and mind."
|Mountaineering is a challenging and perilous endeavor that shares similarities with Nguyen Thanh Nha's career as a lawyer. Photo: Supplied
She has seen many similarities between mountaineering and her job as a lawyer.
Lawyers look so professional and well-groomed but are full of adventurous and challenging thinking. They need breakthrough solutions to keep risks to a minimum level.
Mountaineers also need these personalities.
“In reality, some cases in which I worked as a lawyer were also challenging and arduous like the mountains on my journey to conquer the highest peaks across the seven continents. Resilience, patience, absolute discipline, and passion are required for all sports,” Nha said.
She added that no step on a mountaineering journey is easy.
“I started with drawing up a detailed plan. I've asked for opinions from experienced trainers and athletes, such as Nguyen Mau Linh [one of the first three Vietnamese people to conquer Mount Everest in 2008]," she said.
“Linh was my first trainer who taught me to tie ropes, cling to rocks, and use verbal commands.
"Khoo Swee Chiow [the first Southeast Asian and the fourth person in the world to complete the North Pole, the South Pole, and the Seven Summits] also taught me fundamental and advanced mountaineering lessons so that I could obtain mountaineering certificates."
For every climb, she and her companions meticulously prepare, which involves selecting appropriate gear, gaining knowledge about the terrain, understanding the critical aspects of the mountains, studying weather conditions, and formulating rescue plans, recognizing that unforeseen incidents may arise at any moment.
Mountaineering is a difficult and adventurous sport. Mountaineers may face life-threatening situations.
To conquer a 3,000-meter-high mountain, climbers need at least one year of practicing. Any negligence or suspension can return stamina to zero. People who are not persistent enough will give up at this stage, Nha noted.
She shared her favorite quote, "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end," by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
According to Nha, one of the most wonderful things of modern society is creating an environment where women can develop their potential. Each woman has her surprising personality.
She is sometimes surprised at her choices which have opened new chapters in her life, Nha said.
Dreams are a motivation to practice sports to improve health.
Everyone should not set limits but should bravely and patiently pursue their dreams instead, Nha advised.
|Céline Thanh Nha during her mountaineering journey. Photo: Supplied
Céline Thanh Nha, born in 1987, holds two master’s degrees in law from Sorbonne University and Paris-Panthéon-Assas University in France.
She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Law at the University of Economics and Law, a part of the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City.
Nha is a lawyer, director of a law firm named Celigal Lawyers, and chairwoman of the Yeti Capital investment fund.
She has a passion for reading and is an avid book collector.
Besides mountaineering, she has played golf for 15 years. The lawyer is also a fan of skiing, skydiving, formula racing, and helicopter flying.