Pakistan’s US-based women climber Zenab Mansoor, who successfully attempted Mount Everest last month, said on Sunday she was committed to ascending Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks in seven continents.
“I’ve the incredible fortune to climb the highest peaks in five continents. These include Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Denali in North America, Vinson in Antarctica and Everest in Asia. I am hoping to complete the list with Aconcagua in South America and Carstenz Pyramid in Oceania/Australia by the end of this year or early 2024”, Zenab told APP on phone.
A pediatric ICU physician, Zenab moved to USA in 2008 to pursue her career in medicine. Currently, she resides in Seattle, Washington. On May 17, she reached atop Everest (8,849-metre), the world’s highest peak, located in Nepal.
“That was an incredible moment for me as I got to raise my country’s flag on the highest point on the planet.
“My journey to the top of the world was achieved that day but my love for climbing began in my childhood, as I had always felt a sense of awe and wonder when visiting the northern areas of Pakistan and dreamt of scaling high peaks of the world.
“That childhood dream was shelved for many years as I pursued a very demanding career in medicine.
“Then in 2013, I heard about Pakistani woman mountaineer, Samina Baig, who had summited Everest and thus, become the first ever Pakistani female to do so. Her trailblazing achievement reignited the fire in me and she has been a source of inspiration ever since,” she added.
However, it took several more years to Zenab to start realizing her dream. “In December 2016, a devastating family tragedy left me feeling heartbroken and despondent,” Zenab said while referring to a PIA plane crash, near Havelian area of Abbottabad wherein she lost her younger brother, the 26-year-old co-pilot Ahmed Mansoor Janjua. All 47 people on board had died in the incident.
“To help me cope with the grief, I decided to take a trip to Tanzania and Mount Kilimanjaro became my first climb. At 5,895 meters, it is the highest point in Africa. It was a grueling climb, but watching the sunrise over the clouds from the top of the mountain was a site I will not forget. The feeling of reaching the summit was indescribable, and it fueled my desire to climb higher and more challenging peaks,” she said.
According to Zenab, on her return from Kilimanjaro, she signed up for a mountaineering class and successfully summited two popular climbing spots for budding mountaineers in the US – Mount Baker and Mount Rainier, located in Washington.
“Acquiring these necessary skills allowed me to set my sights on higher and tougher altitudes. I set myself the goal of climbing the Seven Summits. At the time, I was living in Boston where even small training hills were at least 2-3 hours away. At this juncture mountaineering was not just a hobby but had become a lifestyle. It was a way to train, stay in shape, explore, and connect with nature all while doing something that I was so passionate about.
Zenab said to achieve her target she regularly challenged herself on more challenging routes in hard to reach places. “In the last few years I’v done ice climbing in the beautiful Cordillera Blanca in Peru, visited the Atacama desert in Chile to climb Ojos del Salado and rock climbed in the French Alps and some other mountains in USA and South America.
“Climbing mountains in not just about reaching the summit; it’s about pushing yourself to the limits, overcoming obstacles whether physical or mental, and learning to rely on your strength and determination to achieve your goals.
For me, each climb has been a unique experience and challenge and a beautiful opportunity to learn about myself and the people around me. This has been a defining aspect of my life. The journey has been challenging, but the rewards have been immense.”
Zenab said she was planning to continue her passion and inspire other Pakistani females to climb as well. You don’t have to be a professional mountaineer to pursue this beautiful sport. In the years to come, it is my hope that this sport will be more accessible. I would love the opportunity to inspire and work with aspiring Pakistani female climbers,” she added.