Lene Gammelgaard

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Lene Gammelgaard
Born (1961-12-18) December 18, 1961 (age 55)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Residence Copenhagen
Nationality Danish
Occupation Author, Lawyer, Journalist, Psychological Counselor, Expedition Leader, Mountaineer and Motivational speaker.
Years active 1981 - present
Children Smilla Gammelgaard, Sylvester Gammelgaard, Srijana Gammelgaard
Parent(s) Helge Nielsen, Kirsten Nielsen
Website LeneGammelgaard.com

Lene Gammelgaard Nielsen is a Danish author, keynote speaker, motivational speaker, lawyer, journalist, psychological counselor, mountaineer and expedition leader. She is an extraordinary writer best known for her bestselling book Climbing High printed in 1998 and published by HarperCollins. This book gained worldwide attention as the first book to be written and published about the 1996 Everest disaster, a storm that took the lives of Scott Fischer, Rob Hall, and 6 other climbers. The book went on to sell over 1 million copies world-wide.

She is based in Denmark but has traveled and worked in over 15 countries in pursuit of her keynote speaking career. She is a motivational and inspirational speaker who works with management professionals and leaders to develop their potential and mobilize their leadership and teams. She was the 35th woman and the first Scandinavian woman to climb Mt. Everest [1] and reach the peak via the South East Ridge route. She accomplished this feat on 10 May 1996 as part of Scott Fischers' Sagarmatha Environmental Expedition.[2] This is one of the most remembered expeditions in the history of Mt Everest.

Climbing High, her bestselling book to date, has been translated into 13 languages. She was portrayed in the film Everest (2015) by actress Charlotte Bøving.

Early life[edit]

Lene was born in Copenhagen Denmark, to Kirsten Nielsen, a sociotherapeut and Helge Nielsen a Denmark CEO. When she was growing up, her family would move every 3 years due to her father’s career. This forced her to redefine herself and develop great adaptability. It gave her great insight in diversity in different parts of life and the world. Gammelgaard says “I was more of an observer than impulsive in the forefront. I kept to myself more than being an extrovert socializer. I was definitely wild and thrived the best riding my horse bareback in the remote parts of Denmark.”

When she was 22 years old, she lost one of her brothers in a tragic accident, which propelled her into a rough confrontation with some of the unpredictability and unfairness of existence: formulating the quest; ‘Get busy living or get busy dying. If you were to die in 24 hours are you then living life the way you find meaningful? If not what are you willing to do to change it? Your life is not going to improve until you do’.

She developed a lifestyle where she pursed higher education parallel with ocean sailing and climbing tours.


At the age of 20, after finishing college, she sailed the Caribbean working as a deck hand and later crossed the Atlantic on a yacht via the Azores. This was the start of her success in a male dominated environment.

In 1982 she attended the University of Copenhagen where she achieved a law degree specializing in tax and company law. She worked full time and studied at night as a finance analyst at Erik Moller’s Efterfolgere which was the largest stock brokers company in Denmark at that time. In 1988 she took a break and sailed from Zealand to Gibraltar as a co-navigator on a Nautical 42 for a 3 month trip. Later that year she worked as a purchasing manager in charge of negotiations, legal and transport issues dealing with Hong-Kong, Singapore and Thailand in Pinetta Textile Company. She was also the project leader and activist at Green peace.

In 1991 she went back to school on a supplementary study at Danish school of journalism. It was during this year that her mountain climbing passion was sparked. She spent three months on a climbing and trekking expedition around Dhaulagiri Massif. She then made an attempt on Island peak in Nepal as a single climber. During this attempt she encountered Scott Fischer and his friends who had just climbed Mara Peak. Scott Fischer would later become her friend and mentor.

In 1993 she studied psychotherapy using the American 12-step method, a degree in psychotherapy specialized in addictions and installing life altering self responsibility habits. She co-founded two drug-treatment centers,[3] developed and led a therapy program for professionals and co-dependents aimed at changing individuals’ mental attitudes and behavior towards self responsibility in one week processes.

In 1995 she embarked on an expedition with Scott Fischer and Mountain Madness to Karakorum Mountain Range, Broad Peak Base Camp, Condogoro La Pass 7300 meters in Pakistan. It was during this expedition on the glacier below K2 that Scott invited her to participate in the life changing experience of climbing Mt. Everest in the spring of 1996 with him.

1996 marked the height of her success when her dream of climbing Mt Everest came true. She climbed Everest and reached the peak in one the most remembered expeditions in the history of Everest. This expedition claimed many lives but she was one of the survivors. Her mantra before and during the expedition was ‘'To the summit and safe return'’. It was also during this trip that she lost one of her dear friends and mentor Scott Fischer who died on the way back from the summit. This expedition received a lot of media attention and multiple films and documentaries were based on it. This experience opened many doors for her career.

In 1997 she went on a reconnaissance to Peru, Chile and Argentina, participated in a horse expedition and helped take a young Greenlandic woman from a human resource development program. As an expedition leader on a trip to Kilimanjaro, she instructed 8 African youths from the slums of Arusha and taught them to become helpers on trips for African Environment, African Adventure Agent and NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). She then went on another reconnaissance and participated in a film-documentary from Greenland.

In 1998 as an expedition leader she led 12 Danes to Mt Kilimanjaro. It was in this year that she published her bestselling book Climbing High and went on promotional tours. She participated in a sea kayaking expedition course in Alaska with NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and fishing expeditions in Greenland. She also participated in a reconnaissance in Sweden for Human resource developmental programme.

In 1999 her book ‘Habets Sejr’ – ‘The Victory of Hope’ was published in Denmark. The Victory of Hope is a strategic self-programming process aimed at installing the will to survive and overcome any set back.

She was an expedition leader and organizer of Upper Mustang, Nepal trek. She went on a sailing trip to the Goeteborg Skargaard and British Virgin Islands. In April 2005 she went on a trekking trip to the Atlas Mountains, Morocco and a horse trek in Utah and Arizona with Equestrian Tours. In 2006 she was the captain of her off-shore sailing yacht Van de Stadt 34[4] from Amsterdam to Copenhagen through the North Sea

She lived for 14 months in Nepal when her mission to adopt her daughter was disrupted by the peace process and UNICEF. She shared her traumatic experiences of being victimized by the international adoption and humanitarian process in her book Mitlivskamp "The struggle of my life”.[5][6] She says “Everest and “fighting for my daughter” has taught me the importance of determination and never giving up. Quitting is not in my vocabulary”.

In 2008 she broadcast Storm over Everest, a documentary by the world renowned US film maker David Breashears,[7] with the mountaineers who were caught in the Death Zone on Everest May 1996. Later that year Lene was awarded the Mt. Everest Golden Jubilee Medal by Nepals Regering.

In 2009 she received the honorable degree 1st degree Nepal Tourism Board award for her focus on expanding tourism in Nepal and was later nominated as the Honorary Goodwill Ambassador by Nepal Tourism board.

20 years after 10 May 1996 Gammelgaard published To the Summit and Safe Return where she gives her extensive account and reflections on Everest 1996. She gives an account of her experience sharing life with great personalities such as Anatoli and Scott Fischer and the way they impacted her and the she approaches existences.

She currently operates her own consulting business, "Lene Gammelgaard Consult", ApS. (development of human resources using wilderness as the learning lab). She also works as a professional lecturer and author. Gammelgaard is often published in leading Danish and German newspapers and magazines. She works to raise funds for the Lapka Sherpa Educational Fund, which pays for education for daughters of deceased Sherpa mountaineers in Nepal.[8]

Climbing High[edit]

Climbing High is Gammelgaard’s bestselling book which gives an account of her experiences and memories while climbing the highest mountain in the world. It was the first book to be published about the 1996 Everest disaster. This is the experience that put her on the map as the 35th and 1st Scandinavian woman to reach the peak of Mount Everest. She writes about how she was inspired to take on this adventure by her mentor Scott Fischer, how she mentally prepared for the climb as part of the Sargarmantha Environmental Expedition. She writes of how she planned to climb without supplementary oxygen partly as a kick start to open the European market to Mountain Madness; Scott Fischers’ mountain guiding operation, with her as the company’s representative. It gives the reader insight into her emotions, motivations and fears before, during and after the climb. The book gives a unique perspective into climbing Everest and it gives one of the most level-headed accounts of the events of 1996.

Lectures, Seminars, Keynotes[edit]

Lene Gammelgaard is a professional, international keynote speaker.[9] She inspires individuals and managers in companies to develop their potential through the brain programming approach she experimented with in connection with the ascent of Mount Everest. She has spoken for more than 1,000,000 persons and has an extensive client list that includes some of the world's Fortune 500 companies; General Motors, BMW, IBM, Lego, Daimler Chrysler, Deutsche Bank, Mobil Oil, Nokia, Siemens Russia, Shell Paris, Norwegian Defense Logistics Operation and many more.

Lene mobilizes people to push their limits and get out of their comfort zone. She delivers a simple, proven approach, utilizing Neuro Leadership and pleads for decency leadership & decent governance as the way to success at a global, as well as individual level. She has hands-on experience with vision creation, to undergo hardships and tragic setback, innovating organizational strategies, mobilize brain programming, human innovation and concept development and implementation. In her keynotes, Lene Gammelgaard shares her human Innovation techniques, her unique combination of extensive experience's based knowledge combined with the latest research on the best way for the brain to learn; human innovation through innovative people mobilized through decency management.

Her keynotes are:

  1. Do decent leaders inspire action?
  2. Do you desire to live your work life before you die?
  3. Do you really want it?
  4. Who control the world?
  5. How to form a visionary company with no rules?
  6. Dare to disagree?
  7. Do less! Three clues to understand the programming capacity of your brain.
  8. Five ways to kill your dreams-And the brilliant initiatives of others.


  • Will to victory
  • What we believe in
  • Single mothers by choice
  • Raising your family as a single parent

Personal life[edit]

Gammelgaard has lived an inspiring life from a normal housewife to climbing numerous peaks, among them the highest mountain in the world, and gaining international recognition and fame. She has written many books such as Climbing High, The Victory of Hope, The Struggle of My Life, The Choice is Yours and To The Summit and Safe Return.

She has participated in Horsemanship training, sailing quests and a skiing trip both alone and with her children. She chooses a quiet life where she can focus more on her children while they are young and get in touch with nature.

Gammelgaard was also married to Soren Smidt, a fellow mountaineer, up to 1992 when they got divorced.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "EverestHistory.com: Lene Gammelgaard". www.everesthistory.com. Retrieved 2016-11-09. 
  2. ^ "NOLS - Sagarmatha Environmental Expedition". www.nols.edu. Retrieved 2016-11-09. 
  3. ^ Gammelgaard, Lene. "Co-founder and program developer at Institutes for Drug Addiction and behaviour change.". 
  4. ^ "Van de Stadt Design - Van de Stadt 34". www.stadtdesign.com. Retrieved 2016-11-09. 
  5. ^ Mit livs kamp af Lene Gammelgaard (Bog) - køb hos SAXO.com. https://plus.google.com/u/0/108691979647707785255/.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Lenes kamp for moderskabet". www.b.dk. Retrieved 2016-11-09. 
  7. ^ Breashears, David (2008-05-13), Storm Over Everest, retrieved 2016-11-20 
  8. ^ EverestHistory.com bio
  9. ^ "Keynote Strategies For Your Organization - Lene Gammelgaard". Lene Gammelgaard. Retrieved 2016-11-20. 

External links[edit]