Standing at 8,156 meters above sea level, Manaslu brought on plenty of challenges for the 28-year old climber.
Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest.
The climber sat down with Arab News to talk about her endeavors.*Q: How did this climb help in the preparation for Everest?
A: It was definitely an experience to learn from! This mountain is known for its notorious avalanches and a 15% chance of fatality amongst climbers. I faced many challenges during this climb particularly; crevasses, ice falls, snow storms and this was the reality of how Everest is going to be like. Staying for 40 days on the mountain, my team members became like family, we ate food we weren’t used to, living on the bare minimum, and keeping up with the constant rotations to acclimatize before the summit. Such long demanding climbs need a lot of mental strength – on the summit day it took 11 hours to reach the top with subzero temperatures challenging us and I also decided to go down on the same day of the summit straight to base camp, which means climbing down using repelling most of the time on steep glacier and ice fall areas, and doing so after such long days makes everything triple the difficulty and risky.
Q: What was the main obstacle you faced on this climb?
A: I had quite a couple; in the beginning the muddy and rainy long days going through the steep parts of the forests and villages in Nepal, also the high altitude which means low oxygen levels which makes healing from injuries and the immune system weak, feeling exhausted from walking for hours every day and sometimes we had to walk starting 3am which means very few hours of sleep, and I got my ankle injured at the very start of the climb – this proved quite a difficult injury during the journey. There were also lot of steep routes and bridge crossing of crevasses in the ice fall area. The freezing cold evenings on higher camps made moving around difficult, even the heat with the snow got us all sun burnt no matter how much you try to avoid that, We also had an earth quake during one of the nights on base camp, it wasn’t a severe one but it had an impact.*
Q: How did you prepare for this climb?
A: Physically I’m pretty vigorous at the gym – I do most of my workouts at low oxygen chambers to train my body to handle the altitudes. I also climbed mount Elbrus a month before I went*to Mount Manalsu to keep my body acclimatized. Mentally I was ready for this new adventure and I knew I had to be determined to succeed and think positively as much as I could.
Q: What does this rank in terms of difficulty climbing among all your climbs?
A: It’s the most difficult climb so far not only because of its height but also because of the advanced level of technical climbing needed to make the climb. The environmental changes during our climbs were frequent and so we had a number of rotations to help us acclimatize.
Q: What has the role as the brand ambassador of The Sustainable City played in this climb? And the next one?
A: I am being supported by a true believer of women capabilities, being the brand ambassador of TSC – I am raising awareness for three of the UN Sustainable Development goals: Gender Equality, Climate Action and Sustainable Cities and Communities. As I continue my journey I will always highlight the difficulties our Earth is facing due to the climate change affects. I think it is very important for people to understand the importance of our climate’s wellbeing and its effects on our lives.
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