We are waiting for them in Elbrus. Report: “ Our team climbed Mt Kosciuszko/Targangil on 7th July. It was a beautiful clear day. It was incredible experience to climb one of the world’s oldest mountains. Like they say in Australia, it may not be the tallest mountain in the world but it certainly makes you feel like on top of the world.
Outdoor Education Group from Moss Vale and Wilderness Sports made all the arrangements for the climb. Kosciuszko National Park helped with much information on the impact of climate change on the Snowy Montains. Ranger Rob Gibbs and Apline Scientist Ken Green accompanied the team on the summit along with friends from The Crossing Land Education Trust, Veg Climate Alliance and media.
We learnt from Ken that Australia has lost 30% of its snow in last 50 years. Mountain Pygmy Possum and alpine vegetation that used to get thick snow cover to hibernate underneath are now exposed to frost as there is not enough snow. As a result, certain species are threathened as cold is killing them”
The team members came together in 2007 to climb Mt Everest in 2008 spring. The expedition was called ‘First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008 Spring’ (FIWSE).
Fastest climber to summit Everest Mr Pemba Dorje Sherpa brought forward the idea of organizing a Nepali women’s Everest expedition in order to increase their participation in mountaineering. Only seven Nepali women had reached the top of the world till 2007.
Mr DaGombu Sherpa and Ms Susmita Maskey joined the organizing committee. Nine women, who are now on a mission to climb the 7 summits, joined the team as climbing members.
FIWSE faced several challenges. It was not easy for the team to raise an enormous budget required for the expedition. Thanks to Nepal Government, United Nations World Food Programme, BP Koirala India-Nepal Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, MTV Exit, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and many of our supporters, FIWSE was able to create history.
All women in the team made it to the summit and by May 25th, 2008, FIWSE became the most successful and largest women expedition to climb Everest. Also, first Nepali women from Brahmin, Gurung, Danwar and Chettri communities reached the top of the world.
The climbing members started a non-profit, non-government organization Global Inclusive Adventure Organiation (GIA) after the expedition. GIA focuses on environmental, empowerment and educational aspects of tourism sector.
The team traveled across sixteen districts of Nepal visiting schools and motivating students to climb their own mountains in a program called ‘Inclusive Sagarmatha Speakers’ , supported by United Nations World Food Programme. After the expedition, it was during the school program the team witnessed instances of climate change in various parts of Nepal. This encouraged the team to carry with them a message for climate action.
Everest Women 7 Summits Eco-Action, GIA’s brainchild was thus born.
Shailee Basnet (Coordinator) - A graduate of Business Information Systems and a Post Graduate of Journalism, she works as a reporter for Himalmedia. She became interested in climbing and mountaineering because of the physical and mental challenges it poses, which are quite different from her line of work. Lack of involvement in any kind of sports during her early years made her interested in challenging her limits as she grew up. At 25 years of age she reached a new height on May 24th 2008 by standing on top of Everest.
Asha Kumari Singh - A 24-year-old student, Asha comes from Danuwar community from Meghrail, Mahottari. She comes from a society where women are barely aware of their rights, are supposed to get married off sooner than later and dowry is rampant. Thanks to her grandmother who thought Asha was the ugliest girl among all five sisters and hence thought it was necessary to educate her, in case nobody wanted her marry her. Asha however was not worried about her looks but coming from the flatlands of Terai, was always curious about high mountains. She came to Kathmandu for higher education and got an opportunity to join the Female Outdoor Leadership training in the Annapurnas in the year 2004. Given her background she challenged conventions and impressed naysayers when she started climbing. She made not only her community but also the entire nation proud as she stood on top of Everest on 24th of May 2008.
Chunu Shrestha - Hailing from a poor Kathmandu family, Chunu began working to help support her family while she was just a sixth grader. Despite the financial hardships, she finished high school and started pursuing her education in Bachelors of Arts. When she heard about Susmita Maskey’s summit attempt in 2005, she became inspired by the possibility of succeeding in adventure tourism to support her family. With FIWSE she was able to nurture her passion for the outdoors that she dreamt about during her long days of work. At 27 years of age, she reached the Everest summit on the 25th of May 2008.
Nimdoma Sherpa - Still in high school, Nim is the youngest woman to climb Everest. Despite her small stature, she is dauntless and a very good climber, who impressed everyone during the Basic Mountaineering Course. She had her own struggle on the personal front. Her father passed away while she was a tenth grader. Still she continued her education, subsequently becoming the first in her family to complete the School Leaving Certificate (SLC). She spent lonely childhood in Kathmandu away from her mother for education. She took care of household chores while other children played. But she knew her life was destined to be different than that of everyone else around her. When she learnt about First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition she knew this is what she was waiting for. At 17 years, she set foot on the top of the world on the 22nd of May 2008. She is ruling wall climbing national champion.
Pema Diki Sherpa - Pema Diki, 22, is one of the three girls born to a struggling couple who moved to Kathmandu from Dolakha with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Two years before joining the expedition, a chance to trek in Gosainkunda enchanted this acupuncture assistant. Basic Mountaineering Course presented her more challenges which left her with desire for more climbing experience. She achieved what she had long dreamt for on 24th of May 2008 when she bowed her head to Cholmolungma, the mother goddess of the world. She has great faith in education and as a child dreamt of being a teacher. The team has been conducting educational interaction in different parts of the country, sharing the experience of struggles and lessons learnt during the expedition, motivating students to believe in their dreams. With this program her childhood dream became reality. She aspires to travel and learn more in life and share her knowledge and experiences with youth all over the world.
Pujan Acharya - Pujan worked as a human rights activist in Dolakha. From early on, despite growing in a society where women are supposed to stick to household chores, she had a passion for sports. In her village, she used to play with men for there wouldn’t be women players. An accomplished volleyball player and marathon runner, Pujan, 25, holds several awards for competition at the district Level. But that was not enough for someone who grew up at the foot of Rolwaling Himalayas. She gained her first mountaineering experience in 2003 when she completed Female Outdoor Leadership training. Finally she made it to the summit of Mt. Everest on 22nd of May 2008. She enjoyed a different taste of Everest and adventure as she skydived in the Everest region on 17th October, 2009 from 29,300 ft. During the cabinet meeting of Nepal Government held at Kalapatthar (5240 m), she actively participated as a venue manager.
Maya Gurung - Maya had a childhood marred with struggle and was an early rebel. She saw poor state of women both in her home and village. She always wanted to break free from it. Maya tried hands on various fields including bowling where she reigned as national champion for four years. But nothing really satisfied Maya before she went ahead to join Basic Mountaineering Course and then to climb Everest. This rebel at heart finally lived her dream of climbing on top of the world on 22nd of May 2008, and became the first Gurung woman summiteer at the age of 28. She lived her long cherished dream of sky diving on 10th October, 2008 with Everest in the backdrop. Maya led the Mt Manaslu clean-up expedition as coordinator and also was active venue manager for the cabinet meeting of Nepal Government held at Kalapatthar (5240 m) on 4th December, 2009. Her dream is to see women empowered and educated so that they are at least able to stand up for themselves.
Ngabhang Phuti Sherpa - Ngawang is from Taplejung district, home of Kanchenjunga. She lost her parents in an early age. She and her elder sister quit education to take odd jobs to look after younger siblings. She ran a restaurant in Kathmandu for couple years and quit it later after her sister went abroad. Several Sherpa climbers encouraged her to explore mountaineering. But she did not like the idea of climbing alone. When she learnt that a women’s team was being put together for climbing Everest, her hidden desire made her give it a shot. This 33-year-old woman felt she did the right thing when she joined Basic Mountaineering Course. On the 22nd of May 2008, she reached her highest destination, Mount Everest.
Usha Bist - Born as fifth daughter in the Far-Western district of Kailali, Usha was left in the jungle for dead. That’s what earned her nickname Bandevi- goddess of the forest. It was a fellow villager who saved the new-born. From early on, Usha was inspired by women climbers and wanted to climb Mt Everest herself. She came to Kathmandu to climb Everest, not knowing where to start. She completed basic and advanced mountaineering courses, climbed a number of peaks including the notorious Amadablam. In 2007, she earned spot in the Loktantrik Expedition Team, to attempt Everest. She was left behind at 8,400m and later rescued. To everybody’s surprise, this 24 year old finally stepped on the top of the world a year later. Her connection to forest is still alive as she is the president of Sasakta Mahila Samudayik Ban in her home district.