Hanifa Yousoufi, a 24 year old girl made the history by becoming the first Afghan woman who reached the top of Mount Noshaq. It is the second highest peak in the Hindu Kush Range and the tallest peak in Afghanistan with the height of 24,850 feet. This was an astonishing accomplishment as there were three women who were in this expedition but she is the only one who made it to the top.
Yousoufi was a part of a nonprofit organisation called Ascend Athletics. The objective of this organisation is to train female athletes to climb mountains. The organisation was founded in 2014 by an American entrepreneur Marina LeGree. LeGree assembled a group of Afghan women and trained them on how to climb. Among three of the women hikers who were in the Noshaq expedition, Yousoufi was the only one who climbed it to the top.
On her achievement LeGree said that she felt incredible when she saw Hanifa on the peak of the mountain. This will show the world how much Afghan women are capable. She further added that it took them years to learn and practice mountaineering. She and her fellow team members were persistent, they showed up every day and worked with Ascend trainers with zest and devotion. They not only just studied mountaineering but also leadership.
Emilie Drinkwater, an expert skier and climber led this expedition. She is one of the nine American women who are part of International Federation of Mountain Guides Association (IFMGA). For decades Noshaq was closed for trekkers and climbers and was opened in 2009, since its inception only three Afghans has climbed it and all of them were man which makes Hanifa the first Afghan women who summited it.
One day before the departure of Ascend Group from Kabul, the nearby district was attacked, due to which all the members was nervous. LeGree made the arrangements and helped the group to fly to a safe village so there will be no disruption in the expedition. In an interview, LeGree quoted that ‘due to the attack they were looking at the possibilities of delaying or cancelling the expedition as the women who were part of the Ascend team were at risk and so were their family’. That’s why they had to fly to a different airstrip which was a13 hours drive away from Noshaq.
Yousoufi who was only 24 year old at the time of expedition had never done sit ups either, but now she had made a history and became a role model for other women in her country. She said that she done this for every single girl in country. She further added that Afghani girls are strong and will remain strong.
American Photojournalist Erin Trieb and Berlin based writer ,Theresa Breuer were also a part of this expedition and now they are planning to produce a story about Yousoufi and make a documentary on how against all the odds, this young Afghani girl reached the peak of Noshaq.
What Hanifa did for the women of her country will have a ripple effect for all the women around the globe, and this will help other female Afghani climbers to step forward and take a leap as Afghanistan has a life time of great climbing to do.