साक्षात्कार

Shailee Basnet


Interview with Seven Summit Women Team Coordinator: Shailee Basnet























ABOUT THEM:

In May 2008, against all kinds of socio-economic challenges a team of young Nepali women became the most successful women’s expedition to ever summit Mt Everest. Seven of the team members have now set on a mission to climb the highest peaks on seven continents.

With ‘Together We Reach Higher’ as a motto we focus on education, empowerment and environment as the tools to attaining greater heights. Taking this message we have scaled the highest peaks of Australia, Europe and Africa.

The team members come from diverse backgrounds. One ran away from home at 14 to escape a forced marriage. Another was educated, as she was deemed not to be beautiful enough to find a good husband. Hence we not only believe the message we carry but also incorporate school visits, collaboration with local women and learning about local environmental impact as core components of the mission.

The goal is to compile the knowledge gained in this historic journey into educational material, which will be distributed, to students worldwide.

Since 2008 we have been to over 150 schools across Nepal, Australia, Russia, the USA and Tanzania. We’ve been climbing with local women learning and sharing about our common issues. In each climb we also learn about the changes in mountain environment. We have also been actively promoting tourism in Nepal in collaboration with Nepal Tourism Board.

We are now in preparation to climb Vinson Massif in Antarctica followed by Mt Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America situated in Argentina in February 2014, and finally Mt Denali in North America in the subsequent spring.

A documentary movie featuring the team’s journey so far is due in September 2014. A book will be released upon completion of the mission.

Less than 350 people in the world have climbed the 7 Summits, of them only 51 are women that includes none from Nepal. With this mission we aspire to motivate youth and women across continents and demonstrate how young women from a country called Nepal can go for great heights both literally and metaphorically.

Everest

The team members originally came together in 2007 to climb Mt Everest in 2008 spring. The expedition was called ‘First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008 Spring’ (FIWSE).

Climber’s Club 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.

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 seven members who could not go back to their old lives then started the mission to climb the tallest mountain in the rest of the six continents.


Australia

The team successfully started the mission from Australia in June-July 2010.  We left for Australia on 28th June 2010 and climbed the tallest mountain in Australia, Mt Kosciuszko/Targangil on 7th July 2010.  Nepal Mountaineering Association was the major supporter for this leg of the mission. The trip was also supported by Government of Nepal, The North Face, Nepal Airlines, Veg Climate Alliance, The Crossing Land Education Trust, Outdoor Education Group, Supreme Master TV, ICIMOD, Non-Residential Nepalis and Nepal Tourism Board.

 7th July, 2010 was a perfect weather day with clear blue sky.  Alpine Scientist Ken Green from the national park along with photographer Vonna Keller, cameraperson Nigel Mueke and other supporters joined the climb.  Coordinator Shailee Basnet was interviewed by ABC Southeast radio on the way up. We took a scenic route up the mountain and spent about 45 minutes on the summit.

On 13th July the team presented a statue of Lord Buddha originally handed by the Prime Minister of Nepal Mr Madhav Kumar Nepal to Mr David Holly, Assistant Secretary, South and Central Asia Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The team made a presentation emphasizing the friendly relations between Nepal and Australia and urging the Australian government to consider the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.

On 14th July EW7S team was hosted at Brigitte Muir’s residence in Natimuk, Victoria. She is the first Australian woman to climb Mt Everest and first Australian to climb all seven summits. The team hiked up Mt Arapiles with her next day and met another seven summiteer Steve Bell later in the day. The team got wonderful opportunity to learn from the experiences of the two climbers. Brigitte Muir, David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red were the featured speakers at an event  organized in Melbourne.

The team made 18 presentations at various avenues including schools, communities, fundraising dinner and other interactions.  Audiences were mesmerized to see pictures of the Himalayan giants and inspired by the team’s story.

Cameraperson from Supreme Master TV filmed the team right from arrival in Australia till departure. EW7SEA members were also interviewed by ABC Southeast Radio, SBS Radio, Melbourne Chautari, The Herald Sun and were featured in Narooma News, Monaro Post including various online posts. The team also received wide media coverage in Nepal before and after the climb.

Our hosts were amazing and we  kept meeting wonderful Australians along the way. After the trip we like to tell everyone ‘if you want to make friends visit Australia’. Kosciuszko was very important for us because this was a beginning.

Many people told us that this must have been a walk in the park for us. We like to borrow Neil Armstrong’s words and say, ‘It was not a big climb but a giant leap for a team of young women all the way from Nepal to make this happen.’ Thanks to our supporters Australia was a great start!

Russia

Everest Women team successfully climbed Mt Elbrus, the tallest mountain in the European continent on August 29th 2010 at 12:30 pm. The team left for  Russia on 24th August 2010. Nepal Government, The North Face and Non-Residential Nepalis financially supported the climb in Russia. Nepali Embassy in Russia hosted the team during our stay in Moscow.

 We reached Moscow on 24th August and then flew to Mineralny Vody and reached the village of Cheget on 25th August. On 26th August, we went for acclimatization trip to the Ice Camp above village of Treskol, the route used by climbers till about 50 years ago. 7 Summits Club in Russia was the implementing agency. Alexandar Abramov, owner of the club, was the leader whereas Ludmila, club’s director was the assistant leader. Ludmila is the first and only Russian woman to climb all the seven summits. We were really inspired by  her beauty, strength and modesty. The couple were assisted by their manager Tanya. Together they made a great team.

On 27th August, the team headed towards the mountain, took shelter at the barrel and went for acclimatization trip towards Pasthukov Rocks. 28th August was the rest day. The team visited a second world war memorial museum in the Elbrus region. We learnt from the museum’s founder that Elbrus region was a battlefield during the war and also learnt that Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was in the region in the 1960s to climb Elbrus. But bad weather came in his way. Presence of all-women team was a surprise to many guides in the region and we were thus visited and asked many questions about our country and mission by various climbers.

Early morning on 29th August, the team set out at 4:00 am aiming for the summit. The team climbed up the Pastukov Rocks, traversed across the saddle on the classic route and all nine members made it to the summit at 12:30 pm. The weather was very clear with hardly any wind or snow. However, the summit was windy.

On our descent, we learnt that summer was getting longer in the Elbrus region. As a result, there were more streams originating from the mountain than in the past, as observed by our guides.

The team spent five days in Moscow after the climb. Nepalis in Moscow took the team for sight-seeing. We had interaction with Nari Nikunja in Russia over lunch. Nari Nikunja is led under the presidency of Dr Samata Prasad. Nepalese Students Association PFUR in Moscow organized an interaction program on 4th September where His Excellency Surya Kiran Gurung was the chief guest and other distinguished guests including Mr Jiba Lamichhane, Dr Samata Prasad were present. The team made a presentation about its mission and received great response.

We received warm hospitality from both the Russian friends in the 7 Summits Club and from Nepalis in Russia. The team was provided special support by the Nepali Embassy in Moscow and His Excellency ambassador and his family. Most importantly, all members of the team were successful in climbing Mt Elbrus, the third mountain in our quest of climbing the tallest mountain in each continent and spread the message of the mission.

Africa

7 Summits Women Team made it to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro on 5th March 2013 at 7:45 am together with four African women, Hadzabe teacher Anna Philipa, youth activist Ashura Kayupayuka, South African actor Hlubi Mboya and WFP staff Nima.

The climb was supported by Nepal Tourism Board, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, UN World Food Programme-Tanzania , The North Face, Non-Resident Nepalis Association and Panchakanya Group.

Kilimanjaro climb was organized to highlight the significance of girl education, marking the International Women’s Day 2013.

After the climb, we visited 7 schools in Tanzania to encourage young students to climb their own mountains through education.

Following the educational tour, 7 Summits Women Team together with Nepal Tourism Board promoted destination Nepal in Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg through celebratory events.

It was a great honor for our team to be able to share a mountaineering mission with African sisters, which was filled with love, joy, laughter, singing and dancing, tears, headache, stress, challenge and of course, achievement.  A similar opportunity in 2008 changed our lives and we hope this made a change in theirs!

In schools Nimdoma shared how she was a beneficiary of WFP’s afternoon meal program herself and how that opened her eyes towards education. Nimdoma became an example for these students that they could also dream big and make it come true with the help of education.

We visited four more schools supported by Childreach International including a training school for hearing-impaired students. In each school students showed great interest in knowing about what inspired us, details of climbing Mt Everest, Nepal as a country.

When asked about their remarks, they shared that they learnt that one should never give up or be discouraged by challenges in life. They expressed new found confidence in pursuing their dreams and commitment to education.

Source from: http://sevensummitswomen.org/




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