Umar Mukhtar meets the 26-year-old Zewan girl who is the first Kashmiri Muslim woman who has scaled Mount Everest
Nahida Manzoor, 23, a resident of Zewan, in Srinagar outskirts, has created history. Defying stereotypes, the mountaineer is the first Kashmiri woman to scale Mount Everest.
Nahida grew in shades of the hillocks that surround Zewan locality. As a child, she remembers whenever any of her cousins or any guests would visit her home, she along with them used to pack lunch and climb the hillocks.
The aura of the heights was something she fell in love with. She wanted to climb heights. “Climbing the heights is something that fascinates me always,” Nahida said, a week before she set for her historic climb.
During her school days at Kendra Vidyalaya School Pantha Chowk, Nahida was an athlete. She used to play different games: badminton, table tennis, and volleyball but was more attracted to table tennis. In fact, she was selected for the National Table Tennis championship back in 2012. For some personal reasons, however, Nahida missed the opportunity.
But it did not impact Nahida, a dedicated and passionate athlete.
“I thought I was not destined for it, so I decided to be a mountaineer,” Nahida said. “This sport was something where I was not initially dependent on someone.”
In 2017, Nahida did a basic skiing course followed by a basic mountaineering course at Uttarkashi in Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM). “I learned a lot there. It was a totally new experience for me.”
Done with the basic mountaineering know-how, Nahida wanted to scale peaks. So she joined Jammu and Kashmir Hiking and Mountaineering Club (JKHMC). There, she went to Dumail for the Tyrolean cross, a practice for crossing the rivers by a rope. Now she has learned almost all the basics what a professional mountaineer needs to possess.
“The eagerness to climb the peaks was making me restless,” she said. Finally, with JKHMC, Nahida set for the Tulail lake, an uphill trek of 3,600 meters. “This trip was cathartic. I was waiting for it for long.” Thus started the climbing and Nahida never stopped since then. She kept on climbing the peaks and adding more elevations.
On March 25, 2018, she scaled Kashmir’s highest peak, the Mount Mahadev, which is 3,966 meters. She scaled it along with two other boys.
Two months later, in May, Nahida, in a group of eight, climbed the Tata Kuti Peak in the Pir Panchal mountains, which is 4,725 meters. “But we could not reach to its top because of the snow. We had to return from 4,725 meters as we had not all the necessary equipment with us,” Nahida admitted. She was the only girl in the group of eight.
Nahida is the middle one among two other sisters. Her father, a businessman, is her support. This support has never let her feel that she is different from boys, weaker from them. “In our society going out with boys and trekking mountains for days together is looked upon with stigma,” Nahida said. “There was a lot that I had to listen to, but my father was always by my side and advised me to chase my dreams without giving ears to what exactly others talk.”
To hone mountaineering skills and to be an ace mountaineer, Nahida, later in June 2018, did an advanced mountaineering course of one month at Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports Manali (ABVIMAS), an Indian Institute which provides specialized tanning in skiing, mountain rescue and mountaineering.
“There I learned a lot; we mounted peaks like Mount Deotibba and friendship peak which are at around 6,000 meters altitude,” Nahida said. She has also done the method of instruction course (MOI) from NIM. “I wanted to make more girls go into this sport.” Apart from all this, Nahida is a trained rock climber.
This all was making Nahida a mountaineer. But every sportsperson wants to do something which will be a record in itself. So she wanted to be Kashmir’s first and first Indian Muslim to scale Mount Everest.
Finally, she created history when on May 21, Transcend Adventures, a Hyderabad based adventure company, which took Nahida to Everest expedition confirmed this development on their official Facebook page.
“The Fourth summit of the day is Nahida Manzoor along with her Sherpa Guide Nima Kancha. Nahida hails from the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The 26-year old lady has been passionate about the snow peaks and took to the mountains at a very young age.”
“Don’t be gamma in the land of Lamma,” Nahida followed this saying and now has a distinction of being the only female mountaineer from Kashmir to scale such a mighty peak.