Not just on top of the world, but mountaineers Samina Baig and Naila Kiani created history by becoming the first and second Pakistani women to scale the world’s second-highest mountain, K2.
Baig, 31, who comes from a remote village in Gilgit-Baltistan, was the first to successfully climb the 8,611-meter peak, along with her seven-member team. Dubai-based climber Kiani reached the top of K2 with her fellow climbers less than three hours after Baig’s summit, becoming the second Pakistani woman to do so.
Baig had already summited the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, in Nepal in 2013. She is also the first and only Pakistani to climb the seven highest peaks of the world, known as the Seven Summits.
“We are extremely proud to announce that Samina Baig, with her strong Pakistani team, successfully summited the world’s most fascinating and dangerous mountain, known as Savage Mountain, the world’s second and Pakistan’s tallest mountain, K2, at 8611 metres this morning at 7:42 am,” a statement from Baig’s team said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Baig and her family in a tweet, applauding the mountaineer for emerging as a symbol of “courage and bravery” for Pakistani women.
Kiani, a mountain enthusiast and a banker by profession in the United Arab Emirates, is called the “K2 Bride” after her marriage at the K2 base camp in 2018.
In an interview with Pakistan-based newspaper Dawn in June, Kiani said her late uncle, who passed away in May this year, encouraged and gave her “confidence” to go on the expedition to climb one of the most dangerous mountains in the world.
“My expedition has now taken on a new meaning. I am definitely going. Chacha’s not in this world anymore to realise his dream, but I will dedicate my climbing expedition to him,” told Kiani, mother to a three-year-old son.
Several government officials and foreign diplomatic missions in Islamabad, including the US and German embassy, congratulated Baig and Kiani for setting foot on the world’s second-highest peak.
Pakistan’s close ally, China, also gave a shout-out to Baig on her achievement.
“I congratulate Samina Baig on summiting the world’s 2nd highest and Pakistan’s highest mountain K-2/8611M, today morning, followed by Naila Kiyani. Proud of our women who play their role in all fields side by side with men,” President Arif Alvi shared on his Twitter handle.
In June this year, Lebanese-born mountaineer Nelly Attar, who was raised in Saudi Arabia, became the first Arab woman in the world to summit the rocky mountain.
In an interview with Arab News, Attar said she wants her journey to inspire women in Pakistan and the Middle East.
“Nothing, and no one should stop you. If you have a vision, if you have a dream, go and achieve that dream … Don’t use your circumstances as an excuse, use them as your reason to go forward,” she said.
The rocky mountain on Pakistan’s part of the Karakoram range is also known as the world’s deadliest due to its treacherous terrain. It has been estimated that one climber dies on the peak for every four who reach the summit.