Kathmandu: A Ukrainian climber said Wednesday she will summit Mount Everest carrying her national flag to rally global support for her country and boost morale among those fighting the Russian attacks.
Antonina Samoilova will be the only climber from Ukraine attempting to summit a Himalayan peak this season, and the 33-year-old said her endeavour was the only way she knew how to draw attention to the suffering of her compatriots.
“I climb Everest to support all the people of Ukraine, to support every warrior, every volunteer and all the people who were affected by this cruel war and to give strength to fight until we win,” she told AFP in Kathmandu.
“I think that (it) would be great support for Ukrainian people to know that even in this hardest year... our Ukrainian flag will flying on the top of the world,” she added.
Samoilova is aiming to join the select club of climbers to scale the Seven Summits - the highest mountains on each continent - and has already completed Kilimanjaro in Africa, Europe’s Elbrus and Antarctica’s Mount Vinson.
She was at the summit of Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain, when news of the Russian invasion reached her in February.
Her first updates on the war came from a Kyiv bomb shelter where her sister was hiding.
She said her father and brother were now fighting and she was “very proud of them”.
Irina Galay, the first Ukrainian woman to climb Everest, has called for Russian athletes to be banned from Himalayan mountains this year.
The issue was taken up by Ukraine’s government but no action has been taken by Nepal, with 17 Russians among the 607 climbers given permits for the current season.
Samoilova will soon be at the tented city at Everest base camp with at least 225 other climbers, but said she is preoccupied with thoughts of home.
“I’m dreaming of coming back to Ukraine... and to hug all my family. And I hope it will come true,” she said.