Lydia grew up in New Zealand, and lives with her partner Dean and her cat Koshka, by the side of Lake Hawea, near Wanaka, New Zealand.
In the early ‘80s (1981-1982) Lydia spent nine months of her life in Yosemite Valley, Ca, USA, then the world Mecca for “Aid” rock climbing. She climbed 10 “Big Walls” - cliffs taking up to nine days to climb; and made seven first female ascents.
In 1987 she became the first woman in the Southern Hemisphere to climb one of the world’s fourteen 8000m peaks. On that ascent Lydia most probably became the first woman in the world to climb an “8000er” alpine-style, (with one push, bottom to summit, carrying everything) and without oxygen.
In 1988 Lydia became the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen. To date she remains the only New Zealander to have climbed Everest without oxygen, has climbed Everest six times, is the only New Zealand woman to have climbed Everest more than once, and has guided it successfully five times.
Collectively, with her partner Dean Staples, they have made 15 ascents of Everest, the highest number of shared ascents of any household in the world. In the 2020 New Years Honours (NZ) Lydia was awarded an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to mountaineering.
In 2015, Lydia co-authored a book, “Going up is easy”, which details the events surrounding her historic first female ascent of Everest, as well as her many hair-raising expeditions through Alaska, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, India, China, Europe, and New Zealand.
Lydia holds a BHSc (Physiotherapy), a certificate in Acupuncture, and most of her physio professional life has been spent working in chronic pain treatment and rehabilitation.