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Saturday Mar 03 2018
Web Desk

9-year-old Pakistani girl becomes youngest to scale 5,000m peak in Hunza

Web Desk
Photo: Selena Khawaja

A nine-year-old Pakistani girl has become the youngest to scale the 5,765-metre-high Quz Sar Peak in Shimshal Valley, Hunza.

Hailing from Abbottabad, Selena Khawaja in her first detailed interview told Gulf News she has a special love for peaks. The nine-year-old said she felt ‘great’ on reaching the summit on February 21. “The view from the top of the mountain is very beautiful.”

Selena was accompanied by her father Yousaf Khawaja, expedition guide Wazir Baig, porter Arif Baig and other team members during the expedition. It took them more than 10 days, of which seven were dedicated to the hike.

Recalling a fearful experience from the latest triumph, Selena said, “At 5,000 metres, I felt slight altitude sickness but my training and the support of my father helped me overcome it soon.”

Selena who has been titled ‘Mountain Princess’ by Pakistan’s mountaineer community, has now set her eyes on three peaks: Mingling Sar (6,050 metres), followed by Spantik Peak (7,027 metres) and then the Broad Peak (8,051 metres) which is the 12th highest mountain in the world. “I aim to climb all these peaks this year,” Selena said.

But it doesn’t stop there. In 2019, when she is 10, Selena aims to “become the youngest girl to reach the top of Mount Everest”. An Indian girl Malavath Poorna ascended the Everest peak in 2010 when she was 13.

The student of grade five at Talking Heads International School with a passion for outdoor activities started physical training at the age of eight in the mountains of Miranjani and Makra. “I have scaled Miranjani at least 45 times and it is nearly 3,000 metres high,” the nine-year-old said. “And summited the 4,000-metre Makra Peak around 3 times,” she added.

Selena and her father are inspired by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. “Aim so high that your goal seems impossible then work hard and achieve your goal — these words of Imran Khan motivate me and Selena to aim for Mount Everest,” her father shared in an interview.

“Mount Everest was an impossible dream for an 8-year-old kid, but now we are on our way to achieve the goal within two years and will attempt it in 2019,” he added.

While the mountaineer community has welcomed the feat, some have raised concerns about safety of kids at such altitudes. However, Selena’s father, a fitness trainer, believes he has trained his daughter physically and takes special care of her diet. “At age nine, she is way more fit than a casual 20-year-old,” he csaid.

Selena through her summits, wishes to inspire young kids to, “Aim high, work hard and achieve your goals.”