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Seven Summits Women Team, the first-ever female team in the world set on a mission to climb the highest mountain in each continent just made it to the summit of  Mt McKinley/Denali, the 6th mountain of the mission on June 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm local time.

The team has previously scaled the peaks in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and South America.

The members originally came together as part of the historic ‘First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008 Spring’, which became the most successful women’s expedition to ever summit Mt Everest in May 2008. The team has since been on the Seven Summits journey with the following message, focus and goal-

Message: ‘Together We Reach Higher’

Focus: Education, Empowerment, and Environment

Goal: To publish the knowledge gained in the 7 continents in educational material

School visit, empowering exchange with local women, learning about environment comprise the core components of the mission.

The team has visited over 200 schools in five continents, engaged in empowering exchanges with hundreds of women and been learning and sharing about the mountain environment. (Read more Cause)

In addition, we have been actively promoting Destination Nepal. Nepal Tourism Board organized its first ever tourism promotion event in Africa and South America in March 2013 and March 2014 respectively in celebration of our Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua climbs. NTB has organized promotional events in four countries to celebrate the team’s success.

The mission has been supported by various prestigious organizations including the Government of Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board, Nepal Mountaineering Association, United Nations World Food Programme, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, Turkish Airlines, Non-Resident Nepalis Association, Panchakanya Group, Golchha Organization, Association of Chartered Accountants of Nepal, Smart Paani, NEBICO, Fulkumari Mahato Memorial Trust, Cho-Oyu Treks, Mountain Delights Treks, ASMAN, Tewa, Folk Nepal, President Travels, Crossing Land Education Trust, Veg Climate Alliance, Outdoor Education Group, Nepalis Association of North California and more. Seven Summits Women Team is partner with Rocky Mountains Friends of Nepal, a US based 501(c)3.

The team members hailing various diverse ethnic and regional backgrounds each have a story of challenge, struggle and success. One ran away from home at 14 to escape marriage arranged by family. Another was deemed too ugly to find decent husband and hence sent to school to become self-reliant.

Less than 350 people in the world have climbed the 7 Summits, including only 51 women with none from Nepal. Seven Summits Women Team aspires to motivate women and youth across continents and demonstrate how anyone can reach for great heights both literally and metaphorically.

Everest

Asha

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 more supporters, FIWSE was able to create history.

All ten 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 from the same team have since been in a 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!

Europe

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

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Seven 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.

South America

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Members Asha Kumari Singh, Chunu Shrestha Nimdoma Sherpa and Pema Diki Sherpa made it to the summit of Mt Aconcagua on 23rd February 2014 at 6:15 pm. The team waved the national flag along with the flag of supporters atop the highest mountain outside of Asia at the opportune moment.

Maya Gurung, Shailee Basnet and Pujan Acharya turned around from 6400 meters at Plaza de Independencia to avoid various possible risks including that of frostbite.

The climb typically takes 18-21 days with summit target normally on the 14th day. However owing to bad weather the team had only summit window of 23rd February. The members pushed for the summit on the 9th day of the expedition. In a climb that normally takes more than two weeks, all members arrived safely back to the base camp on the 10th day of the expedition.

Mission supporters include Government of Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board as well as Nepal Mountaineering Association, Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN), The North Face, Panchakanya Group, Golchha Organization, President Travel, Association of Chartered Accountants Nepal, NEBICO, Mountain Delight Treks and Smart Paani.

The climb was organized marking International Women’s Day 2014 highlighting the cause of education, empowerment and environment. Following the climb, Nepal Tourism Board organized two celebratory events in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo with an objective to promote destination Nepal in the South American continent. Embassy of Nepal in Brazil coordinated the events. The team celebrated Women’s Day in experience sharing session with Professional Women’s Network in Sao Paulo.

North America

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Seven Summits Women Team made it to  THE SUMMIT OF MT DENALI, the
highest mountain in the North American continent on 24 June 2014 at 1:45 pm local time.

Four members Chunu Shrestha, Asha Kumari Singh, Nimdoma Sherpa and Pema Diki Sherpa
along with cameraperson Ang Tshering Lama comprised the climbing team for the North American giant. In a 19 day expedition the team waved the glorious Nepali flag atop 6194 m mountain on 24 June.

Pujan Acharya and Maya Gurung could not continue with the climb because of
health issues while coordinator Shailee Basnet stayed back for logistics management.

From the summit, Asha said to Shailee over Satellite phone, ‘It’s
foggy here but it’s
great being here.’ Chunu couldn’t say much as she was in tears, just
like the rest of them.

Shailee addds, ‘It’s a very proud moment for us. Weather seems to be
major challenge in this mountain. The team had to wait for five days
at Camp 14 (14000 feet) and even on the day of summit, they faced wind
and snow causing low visibility.’

This is the sixth mountain of the 7 summits mission. The team will go
for the last climb Mt Vinson Massif in Antarctica this December. This
will mark the world’s first women team completing the 7 summits
mission.

The summiteers are back safe, sound and successful from the climb.

Following the climb, the team engaged in
international events and exchanges. The team was invited as speakers at the
International Convention of Lions Club being held in Toronto, Canada.
After that the team participated in a week-long tour organized by the
US State Department. Various organizations held Fundraisers for the team as well.

The team is now back in Nepal preparing for the final ascent of Mt Vinson Massif in Antarctica.