A distinguished mountaineer, Naila Kiani, is fiercely determined and spirited
aila Kiani, a Pakistani mountaineer, has made her mark in the field of adventure sports with outstanding achievements. Known worldwide for her unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of nature’s most demanding challenges, Kiani has cemented her place among mountaineering’s elite. The relentless pursuit of adventure motivates her to continuously push the boundaries.
Kiani became a social media sensation in 2018 after her wedding photo-shoot at the K2 base camp captured widespread attention and highlighted her love of the mountains.
Her greatest accomplishment was on May 16, 2023, when she summited Mount Lhotse in Nepal. Standing at 8,516 metres, Lhotse is the world’s fourth-highest mountain, surpassed only by Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga.
Only two days earlier, Kiani had planted Pakistan’s flag at Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, at 8,849 metres. Kiani added yet another extraordinary accomplishment to her impressive list when she became the first non-Nepalese woman to summit Mount Everest. The mountaineer displayed a fierce determination and an unyielding focus when she set out to climb the world’s highest peak. The achievement established her as a remarkable mountaineer. It shattered a gender stereotype as she became the first Pakistani woman to summit Everest.
In addition to ascents of Everest and Lhotse, Kiani has already accomplished several impressive feats. The Dubai-based mountaineer is the first Pakistani woman to summit six of the world’s 14 eight-thousanders. Her earlier accomplishments include ascending Gasherbrum-II, the world’s 13th-highest peak, in 2021, followed by Gasherbrum-I, the 11th-highest peak, and K2, the second-highest mountain, in 2022. She has also summited Annapurna, the tenth-highest peak.
Kiani, an amateur boxer and mother of two daughters, is not a typical mountaineer. Aside from her unwavering passion for climbing the highest mountains, Kiani’s LinkedIn profile reveals an impressive professional journey that spans several industries. She had a stellar academic background in aerospace engineering at Queen Mary University of London. Kiani has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership and project management abilities. Her expertise lies in finance, engineering and technology. In juggling her adventure pursuits with nurturing her family, she takes on every endeavour fearlessly and wholeheartedly.
Dedicated to mountaineering excellence, Kiani has exhibited remarkable physical prowess while embracing a greater purpose. She has said previously that she hopes to promote a soft image of Pakistan through her expeditions.
After her summiting of Mount Everest, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, has approved the conferment of Sitara-i-Imtiaz on her. According to the formal notification, the Prime Minister’s Office has affirmed the decision of the prime minister to honour the mountaineer with the civil award.
Through her example, Kiani has inspired many people, including women, to defy societal norms and pursue their aspirations.
She has paved the way for the next generation of adventurers and shown them that they can embrace their passions.
Her incredible journey is a testament to the power of uncompromising passion, determination, and resilience that can propel anyone to achieve extraordinary feats.
A gender gap is painfully evident in Pakistan. Most Pakistani women face formidable obstacles to adventurous pursuits.
While these barriers remain formidable, numerous Pakistani women have overcome them valiantly.
Recent years have seen the emergence of some remarkable Pakistani women in the mountaineering community. Some of them have already made mark. Samina Baig made history in 2013 as the first Pakistani woman to summit Mount Everest. Ayesha Farooq, Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot, has also taken up climbing.
Some of these exceptional women come from humble backgrounds and areas with limited access to opportunities and education.
The writer is a freelance contributor