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Persian ladies for Everest - reaching for a great summit
image story

May 18, 2005 17: 22 EST
Previously published Apr 21, 2005 12: 07 EST
Our world is changing. When Shipton, Hillary and the first Persian men stood on top of Mount Everest, there were women listening to the news. Amidst their domestic chores and limited freedom, they imagined what it must have been like for the men to see the world from the summit of Everest. They dreamt, whispered among each other, and read the climbing tales. Some of these women were mothers and grandmothers of the girls in this picture.

Getting this far

Now their daughters, the first Muslim women for Everest, are in camp 1 on Everest South side. After negotiating the volatile icefall, the Persian women mountaineers are ready to set up their second camp at 6500m in the Western Cwm, some 7 km away from C1.

The summit is one thing, but just getting this far has been a landslide victory for these women climbers. Sixty-nine women have gone through tests since last year, organized by the Iran Mountaineering Federation. Seven women were finally chosen for the first Iranian women's attempt to summit Everest.

First Persian summit in 1998

Sadegh Aghajani, head of the IMF is leading this expedition, which is the second to Mount Everest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1998, also led by Sadegh Aghajani, an Iranian team summited Everest for the first time. Four climbers reached the summit from Everest south side on May 20. One of the summiteers died five years later on G1 when attempting his sixth 8000er. In May 2000, an Iranian-American summitted Everest in an independent attempt.

The Achaemenian Dynasty of king Cyrus the Great is recognized as the founder of the Persian Empire, leading to the eventual creation of Iran. The country has been ruled by Alexander the Great, the Arabs (converting most of the population to Islam and introducing the new Persian script and Islamic culture), the Turks, and Genghis Khan's rampaging Mongols.

Afghans invaded in the early 18th century, but couldn't hold power, and Iran was ruled by a succession of variously mad rulers including Agha Khan, a eunuch, who established the capital in Tehran. British and Russian forces partially occupied the country in the early 1900s. In 1923, the charismatic Persian Reza Khan came to power, but was forced into exile in South Africa, and his son, Mohammed Reza, succeeded him. After the war, the USA helped persuade the Russians to leave, the young Shah regained absolute power, and Iran became firmly aligned with the West.

Over the next 30 years, there was a build-up of resistance to Reza, who had adopted the title of Shah, and his regime of repression and modernization, and he finally fled on 16 January 1979.

A couple of weeks later, the acknowledged leader of the Shah's opponents, Ayatollah Khomeini, returned from exile. His fiery brand of nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism led to the efficient establishment of a clergy-dominated Islamic Republic. The country suffered an invasion from Iraq, and after Khomeini died in 1989, the country has been through a number of changes, led since 1997 by the moderate Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. In 2003 the country was hit by an earthquake which killed 40,000 people.

The Iranian 2005 Everest Expedition members are:
1- Sadegh Aghajani (Leader)
2- Eghbal Aflaki (Leading Assistant)
3- Jalal Cheshmeh Ghasabani
4- Ms. Farkhondeh Sadegh
5- Ms. Rezvan Salmasi
6- Ms. Laleh Keshavarz
7- Ms. Roya Sadat-Ghazanfari
8- Ms. Leila Bahrami
9- Ms. Nasrin Nemati
10- Ms. Parvin Rezaei
11- Reza Zarei
12- Shahab Raeisi
13- Azim Gheychisaz
14- Reza Bahadorani
15- Mehdi Sharifi
16- Farhad AziziMoghadam
17- Javad GheeahShenas
18- Mahmoud Shoaei
19- Mahmoud Goudarzi (MD)
20- Khalil Abdnekouie (Photographer)
21- Mehrdad Goudarzppour (Cameraman)

(Adapted in part from IranMountainZone, IranMountaineeringFederation, Lonely Planet.)

Image courtesy of IranMountainzone.

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