K2, more dangerous than Everest, is on this summer’s climbing list for Naperville’s Lucy Westlake

Naperville’s Lucy Westlake is on a mission to break another mountain climbing record this summer — and maybe change the world as well.

The 19-year-old said in an email this week that she plans to summit K2 in Pakistan, the second highest mountain in the world at 28,251 feet.

Last year she became the youngest American woman to reach the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.

If she reaches the top of K2, a more dangerous mountain than Everest, Westlake would set the world record as the youngest person — male or female — to accomplish the feat.

But the climb is just part of the quest for the University of Southern California freshman, a long-distance cross-country and track athlete who is studying water policy.

She also plans to gather valuable data in the fight against climate change.

In the past, Westlake has used her mountain treks to raise awareness of WaterStep, a group that has helped people in more than 60 countries gain access to safe drinking water.

Now she’s taking it to another level by helping find a solution to why arid regions, like those served by WaterStep, are getting drier.

Westlake is working with Colorado climate scientist, mountaineer and educator Ulyana Horodyskyj Pena to collect ice and snow samples on K2.

Because of the challenges of gathering samples, Westlake’s trip up K2 will be the first expedition in which data will be collected to support this kind of research.

Pena will apply the information to her research and measurement of black carbon soot and ice mass loss from the Arctic and the Himalayan regions.

TopTop Studio plans to film a documentary on Westlake’s journey and its connection to water. Shooting is scheduled to begin next month.

To prepare for K2, Westlake plans to return to Transcend Academy in Kenya in May.

She spent five weeks living and running with top distance runners before her Everest expedition last year.

In June, Westlake will join two women guides leading a trip on Mount Baker to teach mountaineering skills to a group of young women ages 14 to 19.

Westlake, who began climbing mountains when she was 7 years old, has reached the highest point in all 50 U.S. states and five of seven continents.

Oceana’s Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia and Mount Vinson in Antarctica are the only continental peaks she has yet to attempt.

Last year Westlake was recognized as a History Marker at the Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Salute to Women in Sports, and she received a Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award at the ESPYS for using the power of sport to improve their communities by advancing gender equality.

subaker@tribpub.com