Nadhira Alharthy: Omani mountaineer wants to “die empty” in quest to share knowledge

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That evening, she pledged to replicate al-Siyabi’s feat, using her mentorship as a guide.

“Her story touched me,” she told CNN Sport. “I was inspired to do something for myself […] challenge me. “

Before training to climb the world’s tallest mountain, Alharthy’s workout routine extended to going to the gym a few times a week.

She knew she needed to change gears drastically, starting with strengthening her muscles and improving her stamina. With the help of al-Siyabi, her training program became that of an endurance athlete in her own right, including running, hiking, rock climbing, canyoning and caving.

The physical preparation for Everest was difficult, but improving your mental endurance was even more difficult. “Train the mind […] it’s more difficult than training our body, ”she says.

In the two years leading up to the ascension, the only other person aware of Alharthy’s ambition was al-Siyabi. “We kept it a secret for a long time,” she says.

She was not only building her mental strength for Everest, but also the courage to tell her family, “I was afraid to tell them because I just decided to go to Everest without any experience.”

The endurance athlete says she is enjoying Oman's barren desert terrain.  She recently visited Jabal Akhdar, part of the Al Hajar mountain range in Oman.
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‘I have been very lucky’

In 2019, two months before leaving for Nepal, Alharthy told his family about the expedition.

“They were very surprised and shocked because I had never discussed it before. They refused the idea from the start. My mother was very stressed and worried for my safety,” she says.

Despite their reaction, she was determined to achieve her ambition. She arrived in Kathmandu flanked by an all-Arab, all-female team, including Mona Shahab from Saudi Arabia and Joyce Azzam and Nelly Attar from Lebanon.

She was in constant contact with al-Siyabi until she arrived at the base camp, when their line of communication began to decline. Her mentor had recently been admitted to hospital after suffering a stroke.

“I started to worry about him. But I said, ‘OK, he’ll be fine, he’s strong,'” she said.

A week later, Alharthy received the devastating news of al-Siyabi’s death at the age of 46. She was in shock: “Losing him was the hardest time there when I was climbing.”
In January 2021, Alharthy became the first Arab woman to climb Ama Dablam, Nepal.

His death gave the expedition a new sense of purpose. Alharthy was not only going up to realize her own ambition, she also wanted to honor the memory of al-Siyabi.

“He was the only person who supported me, he helped me,” she says.

“I decided not to do it for myself and not just for my country, it would also be part of […] the climb.”

After two months of trekking through snow-capped mountains, she found herself on top of Everest on May 23, exactly nine years to the day from the summit of al-Siyabi. She commemorated her mentor by planting a piece of paper with her name on the crest of the mountain.

The poetry of their story is not lost on her, acknowledging that “the first Omani man helped me to be the first Omani woman [to summit Everest]. ”

She says completing her first summit alongside three other Arab women was what crowned her triumph: “I was very lucky to have them. […] it brought us all together. “

Two years later, Alharthy’s face lights up again when she looks back on her memories of climbing Everest. “It’s not like when you buy something, when you try a new meal, when you go shopping,” she says. “It was a different kind of happiness.”

Ama Dablam

By participating in endurance sports, Alharthy had the chance to connect with other climbers.

In January, she became the first Arab woman to climb Ama Dablam (22,349 feet) – a mountain south of Everest – while climbing alongside Qatari mountaineer Fahad Badar.

“I hadn’t planned to go to Ama Dablam from the start. Then a friend of ours, Fahad […] he told me he was going, ”says Alharthy.

“I told him, I’m not as scared of climbing the mountain as I was scared of the cold because it’s winter season and it’s very difficult.”

After unsuccessfully attempting the same climb in 2018, Alharthy was “afraid of failing again”, but she knew that Badar’s moral support, coupled with her training for Everest, would put her in a good position. “I felt I was prepared.”

With an exposed ridge that requires mixed vertical climbing through rock, ice and snow, she recognizes it was her most grueling ordeal yet.

She says the technical know-how and whole-body strength to climb Ama Dablam has surpassed Everest.

“There is no way to make mistakes on Ama Dablam because it’s like you are climbing a big wall. We had to be tied to safety ropes all the time,” she adds. “If we miss something, it’s very dangerous.”

In the past year, Alharthy has not had the opportunity to plan shipments in advance due to coronavirus travel restrictions. During this time, she took advantage of Oman’s barren desert terrain – most recently visiting the epic Al Hoota cave, over two million years old and nearly 2.8 miles in total length. .

“I want to use every chance I have here in Oman to improve myself physically,” she said.

His next goal is to climb one of the 14 mountain peaks in the world that exceed 8000 m, nicknamed by NASA the Eight Thousand.
Rock formations in the Al Hoota natural cave after it reopened to the public for the first time in three years near the ancient city of Jizwa, in the Dakhiliya region, north Oman, in September 2016.

Find solidarity through faith

Solidifying her status as a record mountaineer means that Alharthy has gained media attention in recent years, but she has never sought the spotlight.

While she relishes the opportunity to build her physique and test her resilience, she says the media scrutiny that comes with the job is emotionally draining.

Its limits were tested after Everest. She was struggling to cope with the emotional crisis of having accomplished such a monumental feat and decided to stop training for a while. “I felt depressed,” she says. “I felt this pressure on me, it was something I wasn’t looking for.”

Alharthy has since found solidarity through his faith.

Alharthy says she hopes her story will inspire young Omanis to participate in endurance sports.

Prior to her shipment to Ama Dablam, she received messages of support from her Muslim fans on social media, where she now has over 16,000 subscribers. She sees their prayers as a form of protection. “Our faith […] it makes you get up. It gives you strength, it gives you power. “

Her increased visibility online means her family is now more accepting of her efforts. But like any parent, her mother continues to be concerned for her daughter’s safety. “For them, it’s something very exposed, it’s something very dangerous. My mother, she is waiting for me to tell her that I will never climb again,” she said. “They are supporting me to do what I want, but they are worried.”

She continues to inspire confidence in other Muslim women, many of whom were encouraged to participate in outdoor sports after reading her story.

“When I first started training, many women were reluctant to participate in outdoor sports, especially those who wear the hijab, but it is now becoming quite common,” she recently told The Times.

Her 32 nieces also encourage her to share her journey and highlight the power of women’s participation in sport. “They are very strong and they stand up for their rights,” she said.

Mount Ama Dablam, which rises to 6,812 meters (22,349 feet), in the Everest region.

‘Believe in your dream’

Alharthy says the main purpose of his trip is to practice author Todd Henry’s mantra – figuratively “die empty” of knowledge sharing: “I think that’s what Khalid was doing with many Omanis.”

“I think it’s a great story,” she told CNN. “Even for the new generation, for other girls and men, just to support each other, to help each other, not to hold knowledge for ourselves.”

She hopes that by teaching others about her experience through her newly appointed position as assistant to the general manager of Girl Guides of Oman, she can uplift a new generation of Omani youth towards endurance sports.
Alharthy also learns from his peers. She refers to one of her Everest teammates, Arthur Muir, who initially couldn’t complete his trek in 2019. However, in May of that year, he became the oldest American to climb the longest. top of the world at 75.

“He’s very positive, [a] great personality, [an] inspiration to all of us, “she said.” Believe in yourself, believe in your dream and work hard. “

Ultimately, she draws her strength from remaining committed to her faith and Omani roots.

“I always wake up in the morning and say, ‘Alhumdullilah, thank goodness I’m here […] I achieved my goal, ”she says.



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