First Pakistani Female to Attempt an Eight Thousander | Everest Spring 2013

Despite being land of finest mountains in the world, unfortunately mountaineering, climbing, trekking and outdoor activities never got enough recognition in Pakistan. Nonetheless history of altitude climbing by male Pakistanis started back in 1950s when Amir Mehdi participated in 1954 expedition that achieved first ascent of K2. Raja Javed Akhter Khan was first Pakistani to summit a major peak in 1960; Masherbrum (7821m) also known as K1. Ashraf Aman holds the honor of being first Pakistani to summit K2 (or any 8000er). Rajab Shah became the first Pakistani to conquer all five 8000ers situated in Pakistan. Nazir Sabir summited K2 via new route. In 1997 a team from Pakistan attempted Everest for the first time but couldn’t succeed in reaching summit. In 2000, Nazir Sabir became the first Pakistani to go atop Everest.

Contrarily, female climbers in Pakistan are almost nonexistent. No female had climbed above 6000m only until a couple of years back when Samina Khayal Baig summited Chashkin Sar (ca. 6000m). Since then she and some other ladies have summited several 6000ers in summer and attempted Mingligh Sar (6050m) in winter. Samina usually climbs with her elder brother Mirza Ali, under the umbrella of Pakistan Youth Outreach spreading the message of gender equality and female prominence. Pakistan Youth Outreach focuses on educating and creating awareness about mountains, climbing and outdoor activities.

This spring, Mirza Ali and Samina Baig are planning to climb Everest. A recent debrief on Mirza Ali’s blog suggests that the preparations are in final stages. They would be climbing with a team lead by Dawa Sherpa and supported by travel agency Seven Summit Treks. They would be attempting Everest from Nepalese side ie Southeast ridge. It would be the first instance of a Pakistani female attempting an eight-thousander. Also, Ali would try to become the first Pakistani to summit the highest peak in the world without using supplemental oxygen. Expedition starts on 1st April.
Samina at Chashkin Sar (ca. 6000m) summit; Image from PYO

Mirza Ali (29) and Samina Baig (22) are natives of Shimshal village in Hunza valley, Pakistan (Shimshal is well known for being home to dozens of strong climbers). Ali has been climbing since a tender age of 15 while Samina developed strength and stamina through routine chores of village life. Her climbing skills are polished by Ali’s guidance and support. Climbing Everest and K2 has been Samina’s ultimate dream since long. Mirza Ali attempted Manaslu in autumn last year but expedition was called off after the fatal avalanche that killed several climbers.
Illustration by SpaceRef

All the best Samina and Ali; wish you a safe and successful trip.
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