A nine-year-old Pakistani girl has scaled the 5,765-metre-high Quz Sar Peak in Shimshal Valley, Hunza and has been the youngest person to do so.
Selena Khawaja, the young girl from Abbotabad, said in her interview with Gulf News that she had felt “great” reaching the summit on February 21st and has a special love for scaling peaks. She 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 to summit Quz Sar, of which seven were dedicated to the hike. When asked about a challenging part of the experience, 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.”
Pakistan’s mountaineering community has titled the nine-year-old “Mountain Princess” who has now set her sights on three more peaks: Mingling Sar (6,050 metres) followed by Spantik Peak (7,027 metres) and then Broad Peak (8,051 metres) which is the 12th highest mountain in the world. Her aim is to scale these three peaks within this year.
Selena studies in the fifth-grade and has a passion for outdoor activities. She started her mountain-climbing training at the age of eight in the mountains of Miranjani and Makra and has scaled both multiple times. In fact, according to her,
“I have scaled Miranjani at least 45 times. It is nearly 3,000 metres high and I have summited the 4,000-metre Makra Peak around 3 times.”
Although Selena’s accomplishment has been appreciated by the mountaineering community, some have raised concerns about the safety of children at such altitudes. However, Selena’s father, a fitness trainer, believes he has trained his daughter well. About her fitness and diet, he said,
“At age nine, she is way more fit than a casual 20-year-old.”
Selena aims to become the youngest girl to conquer Everest next year when she will be 10-years-old. She wishes to inspire young kids to “aim high, work hard and achieve your goals”.