Mountaineer & Globe-trotter
Liliya Ianovskaia took up mountaineering at the age of 50, after the birth of her third granddaughter. Less than two years later, in 2011, she went on her first expedition with her youngest daughter Dasha, and the mother-daughter duo climbed Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
The journey that led Liliya to take up mountaineering so late in life is an unlikely one. She was born in the small town of Ivenets in Belarus, and raised in Minsk. In her teens, Liliya was captivated by the stories of brilliant ascents by Polish climbers, such as Wojciech Kurtyka and Wanda Rutkiewicz, who became the first Polish woman and the first European woman to climb Mount Everest in 1978, on the very day her compatriot John Paul II was elected Pope. But the reality of Soviet Belarus of the 1970s offered few opportunities for a teenage girl to pursue in the footsteps of her idols, and Liliya settled for a more traditional lifestyle – she graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of the Belarusian State University (and later received a second degree in financial analysis), got married and had three daughters.
By mid-90s, Liliya, together with her husband, opened a small business reselling lumber. A few years later the family immigrated to Canada to continue developing their business in a market that was experiencing a construction boom. Liliya was 39 years old when she became an immigrant. She had three school-aged children, hopes of a better future and very little idea of how much hard work and perseverance it would take to build a new life and raise her children in an unfamiliar country.
Successful Kilimanjaro summit in 2011 was just the beginning. By 2013, Liliya climbed the highest peak in South America, Aconcagua in Argentina (6,962 m), and by 2017 she climbed dozens of peaks around the world, including Mount Matterhorn in Switzerland (4,478 m), Mount Rainer in the U.S.A., as well as stratovolcanoes in Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, including Pico de Arizaba (5,636 m), Cotopaxi (5,897 m), Antisana (5,804 m), Alpamayo (5,947 m) and Huarapasca (5,418 m).
From her childhood hero, world-renowned mountaineer Wojciech Kurtyka, Liliya inherited the philosophy of the artistry of the mountains – she fell in love with their beauty and spirituality. For Liliya, mountaineering aesthetics is as important as the technical complexity of the climb itself.
It was this craving for beauty that led Liliya and her daughter to the Himalayas, where together they climbed their ninth joint peak – Ama Dablam (6,817m). A year later, Liliya returned to the Himalayas alone – here she completed a successful expedition to Cho-Oyu (8,188m), her first eight-thousander. The tenth joint expedition of Liliya and Dasha - to Everest - was to take place in 2020, but their plans were thwarted by Covid, and international borders closed just a few days before their flight to Nepal.
In March 2021, at 61 and unwilling to let the dream slip away, Liliya headed to the Himalayas for the third time. After completing acclimatization rotations, she was diagnosed with Covid-19 right on the eve of the departure for summit push, ending her expedition to Everest. Just a few months later in the fall 2021, Liliya returned to Nepal and successfully climbed Manaslu (8,163m).
On May 14, 2022, Liliya and Dasha reached the summit of Everest together, only the third mother-daughter team to do so. Two months later on July 22, 2022, Liliya climbed K2 in Pakistan. Just 2 weeks shy of her 63rd birthday, she became the world's oldest woman to do so.
Two weeks after K2, and two days after her 63rd birthday, on August 8, Liliya climbed her third eight-thousander of 2022, Gasherbrum II.
- Name Liliya Ianovskaia
- Age 63 Years
- Residence Canada
- Nationality Belarus, Canada
- Notable Peaks K2, Everest, Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Gasherbrum II, Lhotse
Interests & Hobbies
From the Highlands of Central Ontario to Canmore, Alberta
Every day, rain or shine.
Amateur geologist and
avid rock collector
King Crimson, Steve Wilson
2022 © Liliya Ianovskaia.
All Right Reserved.