Rachel Ashwell

Rachel Ashwell

Rachel works as a Summer and Winter Mountain Leader and Expedition Leader, having lead expeditions and treks in Nepal, Morocco, Tajikistan and Iceland. Rachel balances this with a medical career – she qualified as a doctor in 2015 and currently works as a trainee in General Practice

Rachel has a keen interest in the benefits of the outdoors to our health and wellbeing. She also works as an Expedition Medic and holds the Diploma in Mountain Medicine and Wilderness Physician certificates. She has a particular interest in High Altitude Medicine and has completed numerous expeditions to altitudes above 6000m in Nepal, most recently a personal trip to climb Ama Dablam in 2019.

Rachel has enjoyed exploring the mountains and wilderness for as long as she can remember. Rachel grew up on the Dorset coastline, she moved to the Scottish Highlands in her twenties and hasn’t looked back; she particularly loves exploring Scotland’s ‘wild west’ and islands.

She holds the Mountain Leader (ML), Winter Mountain Leader (WML) and Rock Climbing Instructor (RCI) qualifications and hopes to complete her final assessment for the International Mountain Leader (IML) this January. She has also completed her Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor (MCI) training as well as White Water Safety and Rescue (WWSR) training.

Getting to know Rachel Ashwell

My favourite ‘trek’ (although there is also a fair bit of climbing!) so far has to be my recent expedition to Ama Dablam (6814m), taking in an acclimatisation ascent of Island Peak (6189m) on route. Ama Dablam basecamp is surrounded by absolutely breath-taking scenery and the mountain itself is considered one of the most beautiful in the whole Himalaya.

My best day was leading a recent expedition to Annapurna Base Camp and seeing the whole group successfully manage to complete the trek up to base camp, despite a few issues and challenges faced by some group members on route. Everyone was so chuffed with their achievement and we were rewarded with stunning views (a rarity as it was Monsoon season at the time!).

Comfortable and appropriate footwear is paramount for this kind of trip. Depending on altitude and terrain it could be a combination from my super comfy, lightweight and toe-covering ‘Keen’ sandals, ‘Scarpa’ Epic approach shoes, ‘La Sportiva’ Nepal Evo B3 Boots, or for the higher altitudes, my ‘Boreal’ G1 Lite high altitude boots.

Build up a good level of fitness before the trek and then take it real slow on the ascent. It’s important to allow your body plenty of time to acclimatise and a good excuse to spend lots of time enjoying the views, taking photographs etc!

It all started as I worked through the ‘Duke of Edinburgh Award’ in my teens – this gave me the skills and confidence to start exploring on my own and I kept pushing on to new challenges – from UK mountaineering, to rock climbing, to ice climbing, Alpine climbing and adventures in the Himalaya and beyond! I like having a bit of variety in my professional work and realised I didn’t want to work as a doctor full time! I love sharing my passion for the outdoors with others and enabling them to enjoy mountain and wilderness adventures for themselves.

There are so many places I would like to travel and explore – the list is endless! But no concrete plans at present.

Electric Pagoda Bar & Café – an amazing atmosphere with beautiful, green outdoor seating area; great selection of food and usually live music.