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Denali Nepali Women

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

The Seven Summits Women’s Team from Nepal reached the top of North America on June 24th at 1:45pm. Thirteen days after arriving at base camp on Kahiltna Glacier, five of the Nepali women reached the summit of Mt Denali: Chunu Shrestha, Nimdoma Sherpa, Asha Kumari Singh, Pema Diki Sherpa, and cameraperson Ang Tshering Lama. According to their website, Kumari Singh shared from the summit “The weather is foggy but it’s great being here.” 

The successful climb of Mt. Denali in Alaska, also known as Mt. McKinley, was their sixth summit of the highest peaks on all seven continents since 2008. The team is scheduled to climb Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica in December.

Fog was just one of the elements that made for an extremely difficult climb. The team waited, bags packed, for five days at Camp 14 at 4300m for weather to clear. Team member and coordinator Shailee Basnet shared with us via email that weather near the equator tends to be more stable, and the further south or in this case north you are, various pressure systems change the weather and forecast quickly.

They took one day’s rest at Camp 17 after it cleared, before starting their summit push at 7:50am on June 24th, and summited at 1:45pm. As of Wednesday morning, 25 June, the women were waiting out a blizzard still high up on the mountain. “To protect from wind”, Basnet said “climbers need to build an ice wall, which we haven’t done in other climbs. So weather is certainly a much bigger factor than other mountains.” Basnet added all of the women are safe and healthy.

This was also the women’s first self supported climb which presented it’s own challenges. Including backpacks and sleds full of supplies, they were pulling over 50 kgs each on the glacier.

Not all of the seven woman team reached the summit, however. Maya Gurung was diagnosed with pneumonia before the climb, Pujan Acharya was affected by a shoulder problem that hampered her last climb and Shailee Basnet had to stay back at camp to take care of logistical issues.

Their reception in North America has been overwhelmingly positive. They prefer to focus on climbing before each summit, “But as a team of Nepali women” Basnet said “it’s impossible not to be noticed. We come across people absolutely in love with Nepal, female climbers who want to discuss women health while on the mountain, children who notice our same shoes!”

In addition to climbing, the Seven Summit’s Women’s Team are ambassadors for Nepal, for women, they are educators and motivational speakers focused on empowerment and gaining knowledge.

Prior to climbing Mt Vinson Massif in Antarctica in December, they will be addressing the Lions International Club at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, an audience of over 12,000. Afterwards, the US State Department has organized a week-long tour of meetings and media interaction in Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

The team’s overall goal is to compile the knowledge gained in the seven continents in an illustrative educational book which will be distributed to students worldwide.

Read Also

High Five, Nimadoma Sherpa

WOMEN ON TOP, Tsering Dolker Gurung

Seven Women, Seven Summits, Candice Neo


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