Rachael Middleton was camping on Skye when her GCSE results came out, something that was typical of a girl imbued with a love of the outdoors from an early age by her parents and grandparents. It was three weeks before she opened them to find out that her straight A* grades would see her on the road to Sixth Form at The Abbey. Academic development aside, though, it was the School expedition to Nepal in 2013 that would spark the obsession that seems likely to define her life: ‘I was standing, just staring at the Himalayas, and Miss Corderoy leaned towards me and said; “I can see it in your eyes, you know one day you’ll climb it,” and that was it.’

Following A Levels Rachael headed back to Nepal to experience high altitude trekking, solo expeditions and her first major peak, the 6000m Huayna Potosi in Bolivia. In December 2016 Rachael joined a team of 5 others, all male, all at least a decade older than her, to attempt the summit. One of her team mates, a tall, fit former US soldier, told her, ‘when I met you at the hotel I thought “she won’t make it.”’ Eleven days later it was Rachael who supported him as he struggled through exhaustion to make the summit.

Rachael credits The Abbey with building her mental toughness and resilience and encouraging her to set high goals and follow her dreams. ‘I think that if you have a dream, you should just make it happen.’ She has switched her degree from Biomedicine to Geography to enable her to pursue a career that will take in the world that she is desperate to explore. With her determination, fierce independence and passion for adventure there’s no doubt that she has many more summits to conquer!