Climbing the world's tallest peak wasn't enough for Khadija Mohammad Turki - now, she's a few steps away from making history.
The 46-year-old Emirati woman is embarking on a two-month expedition to scale the 8,848-metre (29,029-foot) Mt. Everest.
Turki was on her way to Kathmandu, on Monday, where she will begin her journey along with her coach Mostafah Salameh, from Jordan.
Last year, Turki made it to the base camp of Mt. Everest - and this marked the beginning of her journey to the mountain's summit.
When she successfully completes the climb, Turki will become the first Emirati woman to scale Mt. Everest, which is located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas.
Mount Everest attracts experienced mountaineers as well as less-seasoned climbers who typically hire guides or sherpas for the ascent and descent.
“Climbing more than 8,000 is not an easy feat. Altitude sickness, weather and wind are some major roadblocks we face on the ascent. But one of the most important things that is required on a major trek like this is mental stability. There will always be physical challenges. But if the mind becomes unstable then things can fall apart,” Turki told Gulf News from Dubai airport ahead of her flight to Kathmandu on Monday.
The Emirati has previously conquered the 5,895-metre Mt.Kilimanjaro - four times.
Turki is staying in Kathmandu for three days before flying to Lukla, a small town in Khumbu, Solukhumbu District, Eastern Nepal. “I started taking hiking as a sport in 2013 in Spain where I did the Camino di Santiago. It was an adventure trip where we walked 20 kilometers a day for five days. It was the start of my adventure trips,” she said.
On New Year’s Eve 2018, Turki began her Mt. Kilimanjaro ascent. “We started the expedition on December 26 2017 summited on New Year’s Eve. I came back to summit the mountain in March and October 2018. I did a trek on February this year and planning another one in October.”
“There are six different routes that lead to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro and I want to try them all. The various routes take you to different altitudes and challenges,” said Turki.
Meeting the challenges
“Every trip has its own challenges. First, you are not the same person on every ascent. The environment too changes every time. The weather conditions vary with the climates and seasons. Wind factor too is different every time. We are never in control of the weather conditions. And so every journey is different.”
For one thing it's frought all the obstacles a mind can imagine. “Physically, one can train themselves to get fit. But the most challenging thing would be maintaining mental stability. The moment the mind gets diverted and thoughts sway to something more negative, then everything else falls apart. The moment your mind tells you that you cannot do it then your body will give up."
“The obvious physical challenges are acclimatising to the weather and altitude fluctuations. We need a day or two to acclimatise to the weather. All necessary medication needs to be taken.”
Dubai Holding is sponsoring Turki’s ascent to Mt. Everest. “They believe in wellness and community engagement, and they felt a connection with my story,” she says.
“My story is to tell everyone, especially the young generation, they must follow their dreams. You are at your best when you are following your passion and when you are doing something you are passionate about. Do it now. Don’t delay your dreams. If you think this is your dream, go for it. Challenges are always in your life – at work or personal life. Toughen up and go chase your dreams. I have a message for girls to have confidence in themselves. We can do more than we think we are capable [of].”
Turki along with her coach Mostafa Salameh, who hails from Jordan, begins her adventure in Kathmandu for a simple reason: to get prepped for the long walk ahead. “There are some essenetials that are coming with me. Heavy warm wear, hiking gear, an ice-axe and communication gear are essentials coming with me.”
Want to go mountain climbing? Here's a guide to some essentials
• Map (with protective case)
• GPS (optional)
2. Sun protection
• Lip balm
• Sunglasses, goggles or glacier glasses
• Jacket, vest, pants, gloves, hat (see Clothing)
• Headlamp or flashlight (plus spare)
• Extra batteries (kept near body when cold)
5. First-aid supplies
• First-aid kit
• 6. Fire
• Matches or lighter
• Waterproof container
• Fire starter (for emergency survival fire)
7. Repair kit and tools
• Knife or multi-tool
• Duct tape or other repair items
• Extra day's supply of food
• Water bottles or hydration system (insulated)
• Water treatment system
10. Emergency shelter
• Tent, tarp, bivy or reflective blanket