Samina Baig and Mirza Ali undertook the first Pakistani gender equality project to Mount Everest in May 2013. Samina became the first Pakistan woman to summit the highest mountain on the surface of the earth on May 13. The expedition was additionally honorable for the siblings, as they raised the Pakistani flag on top of the world.
It was not a simple expedition, but an undertaking for a larger cause: accentuating to the world that the women of Pakistan have the capability to do what their fellow men can. Furthermore, the summit sent a clear message to the people of Pakistan and the world that women and men are equal.
The then 25-year-old girl from Shimshal Valley was standing high on Mount Everest to represent the women of Pakistan. She was setting example for other Pakistani women to follow in her footsteps. She was telling women to break the chains, get out of their conventional zones, overcome challenges, set bigger goals and work with passion for the achievement of their goals.
The siblings also encouraged young men and women to participate in outdoor sports and ecological awareness besides working for empowering women in mountain adventures and related sports. The goal of the expedition was to encourage women and give them equal rights. The adventure featured a brother and his sister, and how he encourages his sister to emancipate in the society of the world’s most demanding sport: “Mountain Climbing”
Karakorum Expedition was yet another success story of Pakistan Youth Outreach. Supported by the German Alpine Club DAV, the project saw 6 climbers undertaking the challenging task of climbing 4 unclimbed and nameless peaks between 6.050m and 6.180m in Pakistan´s most northern tip of the Karakorum in 2013. The target region was the Shimshal Valley, which is part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, with the mountain standing high near the Pakistan-China border.
PYO team comprised young and ambitious climbers Mirza Ali and Arshad Karim from Shimshal, Harald Kirschenhofer, climbing instructor of the German Alpine Club (DAV), Chris Nettekoven, Michael Pfeiffer and Birgit Walk who was tasked with filming the whole story as it unfolds.
This project kicked off in August 2010 and included climbing 3 different peaks in the Karakorums. The mountains are situated close to the Pakistan-China border in Shimshal Valley. While two of the peaks were fairly difficult, technical and demanding, the third one was moderately technical but required strenuous muscles. Team PYO successfully completed the project.
This project was undertaken by PYO in 2010, and it saw the first Pakistani female climbing a mountain over 6,000m. Samina was 18 years old when she summited the previously unclimbed mountain named Chaskin Sar in the Shimshal Valley, Hunza, on August 30, 2010. It was her first ascent that set the arena for other young girls to pursue their dreams and engage in outdoor activities.
Samina was accompanied on the project by her brother Mirza Ali, Stelian Pavalache from Romania (film maker and photographer), Tafat Shah, Yahya Baig, Salamat Khan and Arshad Karim. The peak has been named “Samina Peak” since the summit.
The project’s main objective was to film a documentary that promotes women participation in mountaineering and other outdoor adventures. The documentary entitled “Shimshali People” extended over 90 minutes and featured different facets of life in the Karakorum mountains in addition to the status of women in a Muslim society, the cultures, values, customs, beliefs and traditions at the local and regional level besides the attempts made by people to conserve the true and authentic values of the region.
There was also another idea that fueled the undertaking: the women of Pakistan were breaking the chains and entering professions previously thought to be the domain of men only; however, climbing was still being considered to be the domain of men. Team PYO overcame these prejudices and challenges, sending a clear message to the world that women can do what men can.
This project saw the first Pakistani woman undertaking a Winter Expedition. It saw Samina Baig climbing the 6050m high Mingligh Sar in December 2010. Besides accentuating gender equality, there was another cause to the undertaking: it was dedicated to the people affected by flooding in Pakistan that year. Jennifer Rawlins, one of the top supporters of Pakistan Youth Outreach, accompanied Samina Baig to the summit of Mingligh Sar. Rawlins hails from Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
It is worth noting here that during the acclimatization, the PYO team also summited two peaks above 5000m, namely Quz Sar (5850m) and an unnamed peak (5700m). The target peaks are located in the same vicinity in the Shimshal Pamir region in Upper Hunza (Gojal).
Mirza Ali was the team leader for the project while Mr. Yusuf Khan was the technical adviser. It is worth mentioning here that Mr. Yousaf Khan is a veteran Pakistani mountaineer and former Army climber. Mr. Yousaf Khan was honored with the Tamghai-Basalt military award for his great mountaineering service to the Pakistan Army as a senior technical climber. Also, Mr.Ali Mussa, a young mountaineer who has climbed several 8000m peaks including K2, was part of the team.
The team climbed Mingligh Sar, a 6050m peak that was never been climbed before in winter. The peak was summitted via the west ridge. The route is approximately 38 to 42 degrees and the technical level is difficult and requires a full complement of gear. The peak has a traditional route also which is the south ridge. This peak is famous among people for its nice ascent and summit views including a nice view of the Karakorum, the second highest mountain, the savage mountain K2 and much more!
The dividing point of Central Asia, Shimshal Village is well known for its reputed high passes, rich culture, and hospitality. The village is situated at 3300m above sea level. The temperature drops to -20 C in winter. Given this extreme weather in the village, one can imagine the extreme conditions and cold that would be on the mountains in the massive Karakorum! The expedition base camp was established at Shujrave around 4486 m. The temperature on the mountain was between -30 C to -35 C.
Furthermore, a documentary of the expedition was made for a leading TV channel and those who would be interested in airing it. The expedition sought to educate youth about mountain sports, and to create awareness among women about outdoor adventures besides encouraging women to conquer the Karakorum.
The second goal of the expedition was to send a positive message to the world that Pakistan is a peace loving country, where everyone is welcome for tourism and exploration. The project also successfully promoted the rich culturally, history, heritage and mountains of Pakistan.
This project was basically mountaineering & filming expedition for gender equality. It involved climbing an unnamed and unclimbed peak of 60008m in the Chafchingul area of Shimshal, Gojal. Under the project, Samina Baig (2 years old then) ascended the peak in July 2011. It is worth mentioning here that before this project, no Pakistani female had climbed 6008m high mountains.
The project enabled Samina to break the prejudice that high mountains are only the domains of men. The film made during the expedition provided inspiration for thousands of Pakistan women to break the rules, pursue their passions, bring their talents into action and excel in the fields they love. It also encouraged women to participate actively in mountaineering and other outdoor activities and sports.
The project promoted gender equality not only in climbing, but every aspect of life. PYO is strongly committed to its mission of facilitating and training women and men climbers to engage in sports and other activities on the basis of equality and free of prejudices. Even better, the project introduced to the world the unique and rich culture of Shimshal, the most remote frontier village of Pakistan.
The documentary of the expedition was aired on TV channels. The expedition also educated the youth of Pakistan about mountain sports and created awareness about career in outdoors. Other PYO members, including Mr. Yusuf Khan, Mr. Tafat Shah, Mr. Yahya Baig, and Mirza Ali and Wazir Baig, supported Samina Baig in her quest.
The project also raised awareness about green peace, wild life, and global warming and its impact on glaciers, mountains, and rural areas as well as on wild life. This undertaking was supported by a number of donors. PYO members also use their personal funds to cater to the expenditures of the expedition.