by | 22 Jan 2017

I did it. I climbed the highest mountain in South America, one of the world’s seven summits and the biggest peak outside the Himalayas. This is not a picture of me at the top – note to self, iphone cameras don’t work on seven thousand metre mountains – this is a picture of me signing my name on the ‘Aconcagua Wall of Fame’ back in Mendoza.

Boy, it was tough – one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. And I’m not just talking the final summit day, which was twelve gruelling hours up, followed by three further excruciating hours down. I’m talking two weeks in a tent. I’m talking the hot, the cold, the dust, the wind. I’m talking all the acclimatization climbs needed beforehand to get used to surviving without a lot of air.

I shared my time on the mountain with Sir Ranulph Fiennes who apparently tried to summit on the same day as me and sadly didn’t make it to the top. I kiss that man’s feet for attempting to climb it, aged 72, because this is undoubtedly a mountain made for male machines in their 20s and 30s. If I wasn’t so stiff, I might kiss my feet too because although I’m significantly younger than Sir R, I was still one of the only and oldest women up there. I’ve decided to think of it as my own small contribution to the marches that took place around the world yesterday – I’d like to see you take on Argentina’s Aconcagua Mr President.

Having said that, I did think many times, what am I doing here? How did my pursuit of motherhood reach this wild and windy place? This is hard. It’s even harder than IVF. Yet, when I finally got to the top, and the Andes were stretched out below me, I knelt down and wept. I do it because this is life in Technicolor and if you can’t have the family photo you always dreamed of, then you’ve got to create other memories and hope that there will be someone around who’s got a proper camera to take a picture. On the 16th January 2017, I did and luckily there was. My true summit photo will be with you soon and, until then, you’ll find me drinking Malbec in Mendoza!




  1. stevie

    Thank you for your blog, you continue to astound me with your strength (physical, mental and emotional). That is some summit! Congratulations and enjoy that Malbec! xx

  2. Jody Day

    Congratulations you amazing woman! xxx

  3. FrogMom

    Well done you! Super happy that you succeeded and hung on to the top. That is one mighty mountain and you are one mighty source of inspiration. True enough, not many woman on summits. Hope your feet are OK:)

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thank you! Yes, definitely not enough women on summits. I feel a new cause coming on! My feet are pleased to be out their humongous double boots! Jessica x

  4. Craig Wishart

    After many years in the IVF vortex I think one of the great pleasures is realising life is just waiting for you to come back and enjoy it. Sure we’ve got every right to mope and feel sorry for ourselves but really that only leads to more misery. Acceptance is a tough step and sometimes I’m not sure I’ve made it completely, shit…. probably never will but I now realise not having kids presents it’s own opportunities and while sometimes I wonder if this is little more than some ridiculous defensive mental barrier it always warms my heart to see others out there doing their own stuff.
    Well done on the mountains and the Channel and particularly the book.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      IVF vortex! Such a great description of it! And I completely agree – it’s good to be out, and experiencing and enjoying life again. I also agree that full acceptance may be impossible but there’s a lot of other life to live, and I definitely believe in doing that. Thank you so much for writing, it means a lot. Jessica x

      • Craig Wishart

        It kind of took over everything and in hindsight stole all the joy out of life reducing days merely into numbers in a cycle. That’s a shame when you realise a day is really something much more special. Anyway sorry for getting maudlin it’s midwinter in the UK a positive outlook only gets you so far. Once again well done.

        • thepursuitofmotherhood

          It does take over everything, but don’t blame yourself for getting maudlin. It’s natural, it’s understandable, in some ways it’s important. The key is that eventually you find a way out and beyond, whatever that might look like, and it sounds to me like you are on your way. Love and solidarity, Jessica x

  5. Julia Skan

    Thank you for pioneering, inspiring, and leading the way. Keep shining your light. Julia x

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      And thank you, for saying such a lovely lovely thing xxx

  6. Paula Knight

    Wow – that’s amazing Jessica!. Well done.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thanks Paula. Looking forward to your book launch! Jessica x


    You are legend, Jessica Hepburn – I have no idea where you find the drive and strength tho do these things. Looking forward to the summit pic Dx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Bless you Dee. I got that strength from people like YOU who have supported me since the beginning of this mad journey I’ve started on. Much love Jessica x

  8. Lyndel Harrison

    Jessica, of course you conquered that mountain! You are a wonderful woman. Well done! And happy feet up and downing Malbec. See you soon, Lyndel xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Rather too much malbec consumed last night as my climbing companions are now heading home but I have a few more weeks in the sun. Hurrah! J x

  9. Annie Teacake

    Well done Jessica!
    I’m in awe – in awe of your strength, positivity and the marvellously big dreams you have! Xxx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Keep working on the little dreams, and the big dreams come! Or just stick with the little dreams as they can be just as good too! Much love Jessica x

  10. Lesley Pyne

    Congratulations Jessica,you are an inspiration. Lesley x

  11. joanne harper

    I think everyone else has already said what I had to say Jessica – but what a fantastic achievement, you are truly inspiring – a modern day Wonderwoman, showing there is life after we have left IVF!

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      So much life Joanne! Hope you are well. Much love, Jessica x

  12. Diane Plowright

    Well done! and thanks for making me, someone who chose not to have children and who hasn’t swum the channel or climbed a mountain, feel just a little bit lazy ! 😉

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Lazy is good Diane, it can get pretty exhausting being me! Much love, J x

  13. Sheila

    You are amazing Jessica, what a way to start the new year! I do hope you’re thinking of adding Motivational Speaker to your box of tools 🙂 And if my Jessica turns out to be as forceful as you are, I’ll be happy 🙂 Enjoy a relaxing few weeks xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      What a lovely thing to say Sheila – thank you – send your little Jessica a mountainous high five from me! Jessica x

  14. Moira Smith

    Well done Jessica! You are such an inspiration the way you have discovered so much inner strength through your painful journey – which mountain next??!
    Be in touch soon!
    Moira xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Thanks Moira! More mountains on the agenda, that’s for sure! Can’t just stop at seven thousand metresn now could I!?!
      Jessica x

  15. emma wood

    You’re amazing Jessica – congratulations on your astonishing mountaineering feat!! I’ve shared your blog with a few struggling souls recently as it provides so much inspiration. x

  16. thepursuitofmotherhood

    Thanks Emma! And how are you? Your arrival must have ARRIVED! I hope all is well. Jessica x