KHALPU GILGIT-BALTISTAN: Nelly Attar, a Lebanese mountaineer born and raised in Saudi Arabia, on Friday became the first Arab woman to summit K2, the world’s second-highest mountain.
The 8,611-meter-high peak is located in the Karakoram Range and lies partly in the Gilgit-Baltistan portion of the Kashmir region under the administration of Pakistan and partly in a Chinese-administered enclave of Kashmir within the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang.
K2 is second only to Mount Everest (8,849 meters), and is known as the Savage Mountain because of its challenging terrain and treacherous weather, making it one of the most difficult mountains to climb in the world.
Fewer than 20 women have summited K2 and for every five climbers who have tried to scale the peak, one has died in the attempt.
“It is a moment of pleasure for us that a Saudi Arabia-based woman climbed K2,” Karrar Haidri, general secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, told Arab News by telephone.
“This is the first-ever summit of K2 by a Middle East climber.”
Attar, who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, left a career as a mental health professional in 2017 to focus on sports and mountain expeditions.
She is the founder of Move Studio, the Kingdom’s first dance studio. In 2020, the Muslim Women Network named her one of the most influential women in sports, while Sports 360 in 2019 named her the female fitness influencer of the year across the GCC.
She climbed Mount Everest in 2019 and scaled 15 other peaks around the world before setting her sights on K2.
Attar, who began her quest to scale K2 on June 20, told Arab News last month she had been planning the climb for the past three years, but wanted to realize her dream on the first anniversary of her father’s death.
She urged other women to pursue their dreams.
“They can do it, regardless of the challenges that they’re faced with, regardless of the limitations, they can do it,” she said. “Nothing and no one should stop you. If you have a vision, if you have a dream, go and achieve that dream.”
Pakistani climber Samina Baig and Iran’s Afsaneh Hesamifard on Friday also became the first women from their respective countries to summit K2.
Baig is the first Pakistani woman to climb Everest — a feat she achieved in 2013 and which earned her the government’s Pride of Performance award.
The climber was born in Gilgit-Baltistan, and also served as an adviser on tourism, sports and culture for Gilgit-Baltistan’s chief minister last year.
Another Pakistani female climber, Naila Kiani, also reached the summit of K2 on Friday, along with her team members Sirbaz Khan and Sohail Sakhi.
Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman took to Twitter to praise the Pakistani women: “Congratulations for scaling such spectacular heights to Samina and Naila. Must take exceptional commitment and grit to reach the top.”