Conquering the World's Highest Mountain
Nadirah Al Harthy
I was fortunate enough to meet the late Khalid Al Sibabi, the first Omani to climb Everest, while working on a project set by the Ministry of Education. I remember going back home that day and there was nothing else on my mind except climbing Everest, and that was how it all began, a whimsical idea that turned into a two-year dream.
Although I didn’t really think I would climb the tallest mountain in the world, even before this project I had been always thinking about progressing in my life and doing something that truly represented who I was. I’ve always had a natural curiosity, constantly asking people around me what steps they took to get to where they were in life. What were their journeys? The answer was always the same: if you don’t chase your passions, if you don’t try something, you will never find out what you can be and what you’re truly capable of.
In 2017 I decided to climb Everest. I started training immediately, but I didn’t have any real experience in mountain climbing. It was difficult to stay focused on my goal, and negotiate the cultural challenges, even things as simple as what I should wear during my training – particularly as to what would be acceptable for a Muslim Hijabi woman training outdoors.
Alongside my training program, I made sure that I read everything I could on climbing mountains, to understand the theory of mountaineering, how to tackle different routes in different mountains in different climates and, ultimately, to gain more confidence in my abilities. All my training was conducted in Oman, which of course has very different environment to Everest. I coached myself, however Khalid Al Sibabi also supervised me throughout my training. It was not an easy journey but I committed and I trained hard, balancing my training with a fulltime job and a family. I was utterly determined to achieve my goal.
The most challenging obstacle was how to make my dream true. I mean yes, climbing the tallest mountain in the world is a huge challenge but getting to that point is something else in itself. There are a lot of things to share here, internally what happened to me, my inner world - the doubts, emotions, the lack of confidence, the fear of failure and the potential disappointment. These thoughts were at times overwhelming, let alone the physical pain. I survived because I was READY for it, it was like this sudden surge of power hit me when I reached the base of Everest and I realised I had the power to do this at whatever cost it might take.
I was lucky that I had the support of an amazing team that felt like family, who kept my spirits high and gave me the strength to keep believing in myself.
Since climbing Everest in 2018, I always think about ‘what’s next’. I want to spend more time in the mountains and with nature in general. It had such a beautiful effect on me and I don’t want to ever lose that. I have plans to start climbing Oman’s mountains and really explore in-depth what we have here. We are fortunate to have so many beautiful mountain landscapes and it’s so important that we make the most of them. I want to build a mountain climbing community in Oman, conquer more summits – not only in Oman but outside the Sultanate as well, to keep achieving incredible things for my country.
The advice that I would give anyone wanting to achieve crazy, wild and seemingly insurmountable dreams, is to work hard, to improve every day and to find happiness in the journey itself. Even if you don’t complete your goal, it is an experience that will only change you for the better. Get reading, researching and discovering, Believe in your own potential.
Oman has limitless potential for adventure. The possibilities are endless and are simply waiting for the world to discover them. Oman has so much to offer. I hope one day there will be more investment in Oman’s unique landscapes and an authority responsible for developing mountain climbing and creating world-leading Omani climbers.