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Samina Baig
Samina Baig

GILGIT: Samina Baig, the noted mountaineer, plans to lead a first Pakistani women’s expedition team to scale Everest, the world’s tallest peak, this season.

Talking to Dawn here, she said Gilgit-Baltistan women had natural talent in mountaineering sport, but they lacked facilities, besides local traditions were a hurdle.

Born in Shamshal valley of upper Hunza, Ms Baig became the first Pakistani woman and third Pakistani mountaineer to climb Everest in July 2013. She is the first Pakistani woman to have climbedall the seven highest peaks in the seven continents.

In July this year, Ms Baig was appointed as thenational goodwill ambassador bythe United Nations Development Programme.

She said her main aim in mountaineering field was to empower women to participate in mountaineering and trekking sports. “For this purpose I started training camps in Shimshal in 2014, where girls from all over Pakistan got training in mountaineering,” she said, adding events werealsoorganised by Pakistan Youth Outreach, headed by her brother Mirza Ali, who is also a mountaineer.

Ms Baig said the purpose of the event was to promote outdoor sports, encourage women participation in challenging adventure sports and promote tourism, especially winter and adventure tourism in Pakistan.

About 200 girls and boys from Sindh, Punjab, Swat, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan were trained, she added.

Under the programme, she said hiking, trekking and climbing competitions were held. Unfortunately, she said they could not carry on the programme due to financial problems. She said they had established the world’s highest sport arena‘Zarthgurben’ in Shimshal, Hunza, at an altitude of 4,100m (13,451 ft).

She said basic infrastructure had been constructed by themselves, adding football and cricket competitions were held in summer while rock climbing, skiing, and off-road bike trainings were conducted in summer.

“We started these activities in an attempt to empower women andsustain tourism in GB without government support,” she said, adding naturally GB people had talent in mountaineering as they are born on mountains.

She agreed that GB girls could prove their mettle in mountaineering, but they lacked basic training and guidance, besides social taboos were hurdles to them participating in the sport.

“I also faced these challenges, but my family supported me. My brother Mirza Ali is always with me, he is my mentor and trainer,” she said.

In a male-dominated society, she said the outdoor activities were not being encouraged in the region.

Ms Baig said girls should take on these challenges and try to do what they wanted. She vowed to ensure women participation in mountaineering.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2018