In May, Lucy Westlake, 18, of Naperville, Illinois, became the youngest American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on the border of Nepal and Tibet. Westlake, who started mountain climbing at 7, is also the youngest woman to summit the tallest mountain in each of the 50 states.

Q: How did it feel to reach Everest’s summit?

A: I was so proud of myself, and I just couldn’t believe it. I kept repeating, “I did it.” And the view is absolutely amazing; that alone makes it worth it.

Q: How do you deal with a challenging climb?

A: You have to have a strong purpose behind what you’re doing. Even if I don’t get to the top, if I push myself to my limit, that’s success right there.

Q: Do people make assumptions about you based on your age and gender?

A: When I’m on a climbing team, I’m kind of assumed to be the weakest member. You basically just have to prove people wrong. And the best way to do that is by putting in extra effort and working the hardest.

Q: What’s the best part of these climbs?

A: There’s nothing like being in the mountains. Every single mountain is different, and every mountain range is so varied that you never get bored of looking up.

(This interview was edited and condensed for length and clarity.)