Vanessa O’Brien

Climbing K2’s Abruzzi Spur, Pakistan

Vanessa O’Brien

At the top of Mount
Everest in Nepal

Khumbu Icefall, Everest Nepal

Vanessa O’Brien

Geographic South Pole at 90 degrees

Vanessa O’Brien

Nearing the summit of Shishapangma in Tibet

Vanessa O’Brien

With Steve Edwards on Good Day LA

Vanessa O’Brien

On the tyrolean traverse leading up to
the summit of Carstensz Pyramid

Vanessa O’Brien

Camp 1, K2’s Abruzzi Spur, Pakistan

Vanessa O’Brien Mountaineering

Nearing the top of Mont Blanc in the Alps

Vanessa O’Brien

Stylized for CBK, Photos by Icarus Blake

Vanessa O’Brien

At the Women Achievers Congress, London 2015

With the Home Secretary Theresa May and the
Pakistani High Commissioner Mr Syed Ibne Abbas

Vanessa O’Brien

On the Summit of Cayambe, Ecuador
"Climbing for Climate Change COP21"

Meet Vanessa

Mountain Climber, Explorer

Vanessa Audi Rhys O’Brien is a British-American mountain climber, explorer, public speaker and former business executive.

Coming Up


The Next Chapter – work-in-progress.

Vanessa O’Brien, FRGS

Vanessa O’Brien is a British-American mountaineer, explorer and former business executive. Key highlights:

  • Guinness World Record holder for being the first woman to set a speed record to climb the Seven Summits, the highest peak on every continent, in 295 days.

  • First woman to set a speed record to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (Seven Summits plus skiing the last degree to the North and South Poles) in 11 months, and one of only 9 woman to do so in the world.

  • Successfully completed the Boston Marathon in 5:16:00, helping the American Red Cross raise over $512,000.

  • Summited four of 14 eight thousand meter peaks or peaks over 26,000 feet, including Everest.

  • Summited two eight thousand meter peaks back-to-back with summits 8 days apart (Shishapangma and Cho Oyu).

  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Member of The Explorers Club.

  • Board of Directors, American Pakistan Foundation

  • Global Affairs’ Ambassador for Sports

  • Honorary Ambassador of the US Nepal Climbers Association Inc. and Advisory Board Member for Thomson Safaris

  • Participated in scientific research on nocturnal hypoxic exposure (TEC flag #206), took samples to test thinning glaciers using radiogenic isotopes (TEC flag #132), submitted pictures to show glacier recession to COP21 for Project 25Zero.

  • Registered speaker with the American Program Bureau to corporates, academics, not-for-profit and the public sector.

  • Executive MBA from Stern School of Business, New York University and 20+ years of executive experience in global Financial Services.

Featured Videos

Why This Road?  Sponsored by Vimeo & Charles Schwab

After years of working in finance, Vanessa began to question life, and came to the realization that it needed to change. From consumer accounts for many large banking firms, Vanessa began her new journey as a climber—first novice and now record holder. This film illustrates the pivotal moments that led to Vanessa’s evolution and ability to grasp a different kind of tomorrow.

K2 in 2016 – First American Ascent

Join me as I plan on returning to Pakistan following a reconnaissance trip in 2015. In June 2016 I will attempt to become the first American/British woman to ascend and descend K2.

Breathe: An Explorers Grand Slam Journey

Journey with me to the 7 Summits in 7 minutes. Join me as I become the fastest woman to complete the Explorers Grand Slam and ski the last degree to the North and South poles, in 11 months.

No-one can take away the knowledge, skills, and experience you acquire throughout your life. Your knowledge, skills, and experience inform your decisions as you move forward. So go ahead – take the biggest step you can

– Vanessa O’Brien
(Banker to Mountaineer)

There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.

– Ernest Hemingway

Photos Across the Globe

Latest Press

See the latest press in popular newspapers and magazines.

Mayor Bill de Blasio Awards O’Brien for Outstanding Service

O’Brien Successfully Completes Boston Marathon

Celebrating Women & The Great Outdoors

Guinness World Records 2017

Vanessa O’Brien joins Gillian Joseph and Stephen Dixon to discuss the film Everest, climbing and risk on Saturday September 19, 2015.

Created by Emily Zendt of the Boston Globe, this video illustrates my final preparations as I leave the USA for Pakistan to climb K2 in Summer 2015.

What others say about Vanessa O’Brien

“Vanessa touched hundreds of hearts when she spoke at Women Achievers Congress in Westminster, London in the presence of the British Home Secretary Rt Hon Theresa May and hundreds of high achiever women from various disciplines. The audience loved her analogy of conquering the mountain vis-e-vis scaling the corporate ladder. Her passion and enthusiasm were termed infectious.”

Arif Anis Malik
Arif Anis MalikExecutive DirectorWCOP

“The focus of my activity was to give women an open and safe environment for physical activity that is not only good for their health but also for their psychological development. Vanessa O’Brien’s presence and the support from the PUAN leadership have been instrumental in making this project a success.”

Ms. Shah Rukh
Ms. Shah Rukh10,000 Women Project ArtemisU.S. State Department & Pakistan

“Vanessa is a dynamic story teller, putting you right on the mountain with her. She effectively related how key business concepts like teamwork, adaptability and leadership are skills that apply to just about any scenario – even navigating in high altitudes and deep crevasses. She had our group focused and engaged until the very end.”

Shana Fleet
Shana FleetEnterprise Data ManagementCapital One

“Using the metaphor of climbing, Vanessa took us on a tour of some of the most challenging and remote places on the planet. She illustrated how preparation, teamwork, staying focused to avoid risks, and applying a success-oriented mindset differentiate the winners from the losers – not just on the mountain but in business and in life.”

Senator Lesil McGuire
Senator Lesil McGuireAlaska State LegislatureAlaska Women’s Summit

“Vanessa’s recent visit to Cape Henry Collegiate was nothing short of remarkable. Her presence and style engaged students while her story and message inspired them. The time she spent with our community before and after her presentation provided all with an opportunity to ask questions, and learn about the life lessons of risk taking, decision making, and goal setting.”

Kathleen K. Sharp, M.Ed., Ed.S.
Kathleen K. Sharp, M.Ed., Ed.S.Director of Academic AffairsCape Henry Collegiate

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