ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Seven Summits Women Team plans to do what only 51 women have done: Climb the tallest mountains on seven continents. So far they have completed six.
The Nepalese woman, guests of the U.S. State Department, stopped at Sportrock Climbing Center in Alexandria to talk with young climbers about their accomplishments. In addition to climbing tips, the children in attendance also heard about the adversity many of the women overcame to take on the challenge.
Many of the women had hard early lives.
Shailee Basnet, the coordinator for the team, says many are amazed by the women’s stories, and that they’re using the negative experience in their lives as energy to pursue their dreams.
For one woman, Maya Gurung, being a young bride was the future. At age 14, her father arranged a marriage to a much older man. But before the wedding, she ran away.
Her life before climbing Mount Everest was difficult she said. But she encouraged herself by saying, “I believe in myself, and one day I will do something and see the world.”
Nimdoma Sherpa is another woman from the group and the first from her family to receive an education. The daughter of farmers, Sherpa at first enrolled in school not for an education, but to have a guaranteed meal each day. She excelled and was able to further her education in Kathmandu.
Their mission to climb the mountains started when the team tackled Mount Everest in 2007 and became the first group of women from Nepal to reach the top.
They didn’t stop there. With months of training and hard work raising money for their climbs, they tackled Mount Kosciuszko, in Australia, in June 2010, and Mount Elbrus, in Europe, in August 2010.
Then they went to Africa and conquered Mount Kilimanjaro in March 2013 and Mount Aconcagua, in South America, in February. Finally, they made their way to Alaska to stand atop Mount McKinley.
Sherpa says that when they announced their plans to climb the tallest mountains, they didn’t receive much support in Nepal because of the way women are viewed.
Under the slogan of “Together we reach higher,” Basnet says they hope to empower women and encourage education.
The Seven Summits Women will next take on the tallest peak in Antarctica — Mount Vinson Massif. They’re working to raise $500,000.