From surgery to summit – Kirsty Mack’s incredible Everest adventure

Kirsty Mack guest everest

Prof Mackay nearly crashed his car when he tuned into Heart Radio and heard Jennifer chatting to a former patient, Kirsty Mack, about becoming only the 6th ever Scottish woman to climb Everest! The reason for his astonishment was that he and the mountaineer and ski instructor met after she crashed, skiing off-piste in Scotland, was whisked off the mountains by helicopter and then ended up on his operating table having surgery for the bad shoulder injury she sustained. So of course we had to invite her to talk to us more.

For her part, Kirsty remembers thinking that after following her rehab to a tee she would soon be as right as rain again. But, as she found out, serious shoulder injuries like this can leave lasting effects.

In an incredible episode, we talk to this high-octane adventurer about scaling some of the world’s highest mountains without the full function of one arm. What it takes out of her physically and how it has affected her mentally when skiing or climbing.

We talk about her shoulder – fracture dislocation, and why the injury was so serious, in terms of what it meant for someone whose use of full arm extension and grip is crucial. Prof Mackay explains more about the injury and why surgery was necessary.

Of course, we also talk from the comfort of our studio about what an incredible experience it was getting to the top of the world – the highs, the lows, the danger points and listen out for the huge twist near the end of Kirsty’s Everest tale!


Show notes

💬 Episode Summary

Kirsty Mack’s inspiring journey from devastating injury to achieving her dream of summiting Mount Everest. After a skiing accident leaves her shoulder with a fracture dislocation, she undergoes surgery and intense rehab. Pushing through doubts, she takes on daunting climbs like Denali. But with only weeks to prepare, she attempts her biggest goal yet – to stand at the top of the world. Hear her gripping account of overcoming injury obstacles and extreme conditions on her thrilling ascent up Everest.

Episode Chapters

(00:00) Jennifer Reoch speaks with orthopedic surgeon Professor Gordon McKay about mountain injuries
(01:33) What is it about adventuring and outdoor sport that really gripped you from an early age
(03:42) Have you ever had a fear of heights or are you fearless
(04:34) You mentioned some of the injuries that you’ve had over skiing
(05:37) How do you make sure that people feel comfortable out on the ski slopes
(07:16) You had a serious skiing injury which has affected your arm and your shoulder
(09:24) Gordon says you dislocated and fractured your shoulder – explain?
(13:24) It did take a bit time for the shoulder to settle fully
(17:49) Complication from the first shoulder surgery
(21:15) Climbing Denali and being the 6th woman from Scotland ever to reach summit of Everest
(25:39) Climbing is really tough on my shoulder
(27:14) So what happened to the knee? Thankfully, nothing too serious
(28:53) Talk us through Everest from base camp to summit
(33:03) Are you still vulnerable to frostbite on Mount Everest
(34:06) You went up with a shoulder injury on Everest
(35:53) My iphone is the only thing that survived the cold on Everest
(37:44) How much training did you get before attempting this extreme high altitude climb
(40:37) You didn’t tell anyone you were going to Mount Everest?
(44:16) You have to go. I’m sure it’s been an absolute adventure
(44:46) Have you got any tips for people wanting to get out in the hills, inspired by hearing your stories
(45:38) Do you think summiting Everest has helped you overcome any doubts about your abilities
(46:24) From injury to getting to these pinnacles
(47:06) Congratulations on reaching the summit of Mount Everest

Show Notes.


Professor Gordon Mackay

Jennifer Reoch


Kirsty Mack

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