Update: The 7th peak in Antacrtica has been summited! Congratulations!
An Interview with The Seven Summits Women Team
Editor: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, it a great honor for me.
What are the names of each team member? How and when did this amazing idea to climb the seven summits take root?
Pema Diki Sherpa: The names of the team are: Shailee Basnet (Coordinator), Asha Kumari Singh, Chunu Shrestha, Maya Gurung, Nimdoma Sherpa, Pema Diki Sherpa and Pujan Acharya.
We signed up for the Mt. Everest expedition organized by the Climber’s Club back in 2008. After successful ascent of Everest, the seven of us wanted to continue as a team. Hence we came up with the concept to climb the 7 Summits as a team. As a result, we’ve been climbing as ‘Seven Summits Women Team’ with the slogan ‘Together We Reach Higher’ with a focus on Education, Empowerment and Environment.
We have scaled peaks in six continents so far. In addition, we have visited over 200 schools globally, worked in empowering exchange with hundreds of women and have been learning and sharing about the environment with the world.
We are currently raising funds for the final climb, Mt. Vinson Massif in Antarctica, scheduled for December this year.
You can find more about The Seven Summits Women Team at their official web site:
www.sevensummitswomen.org or follow their remarkable journey on their official Facebook page www.facebook.com/Sevensummitswomen
Editor: The first summit was Mount Everest (Sagarmatha). It must have been one of the most amazing experiences of your lives. There must have been difficult moments also, but how did it feel emotionally to you to reach the summit of the roof of the world?
Pema Diki Sherpa: I had learning difficulties as a child. People saw me as a burden in the family. However, my parents provided me continuous motivation. It was their tremendous love and support that helped me evolve. So when I finally made it to the summit of Mt. Everest, I had a picture of them with me.
On the very summit I looked at their picture thanking them for everything they are to me. It all became even more meaningful and joyful as all the team members made it successfully on the summit becoming the most successful women’s expedition to Everest ever. It was simply profound in more than one ways.
Editor: That must have been so touching and beautiful, Pema. Which other mountains have all of you climbed?
Pema Diki Sherpa: So far we have climbed Mt. Everest (Asia), Mt. Kosciuszko (Australia), Mt. Elbrus (Europe), Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mt. Aconcagua (South America) and Mt. Denali/McKinley (North America).
Editor: Your team began your mission with Mount Everest, the biggest mountain in the world. What draws you emotionally to that particular mountain?
Pema Diki Sherpa: That’s not easy to answer. Everest is where it all started. Everest is our home. Everest is the ultimate bliss and blessing. We cannot wait to return to her magnificence to give back in ways we can.
Editor: How do you feel spiritually about mountaineering, is there a connection? Mountains are to be honored and respected, and are very sacred. Would you agree?
Pema Diki Sherpa: That’s totally true. We believe that the journey outside means nothing if the journey inside doesn’t evolve. In our culture we believe that the mountains are gods and the adobe for gods.
As we scale more height we can feel a deeper connection with nature. High altitude is an interesting zone. Above a certain height, it is not meant for human survival. So when we step into that zone, we seek permission and blessing from the mountains. The journey is much deeper than just a trip.
In fact, it is the purity of the mountains that has inspired us to broaden our horizon and start initiatives like motivational talks at schools, scholarship for needy girls, outdoor events to empower women and more. Mountains inspire us to become better version of ourselves, physically, socially and spiritually.
Editor: That is so incredible, Pema. Wow. What are your feelings towards the Sherpa community? How important is their contribution in the world of Everest mountaineers?
Pema Diki Sherpa: Sherpas are the heroes of the mountains. There would be really very few Everest Summiteers or perhaps none without the support of Sherpa community. That explains how crucial is their contribution. It would be great to see more support for this great community.
Editor: We heard that you came to the US and met with our Secretary of State, John Kerry. What was that like and what did he say to you? Can you share that with us?
Pema Diki Sherpa: It was certainly a highlight of the trip and a pat on the back for us. He said that the team is inspirational and the world needs more examples like this.
He enquired about the details of the climbing on Everest. We were impressed how much he knew about the South East route, from the icefall, Western Cwm to the Hillary Step. That meeting was great, meantime, it holds more value to us in regards of what we can offer from our experience to the youth and people of the world.
Editor: Thank you for speaking with me, Pema. I can't tell you how much you've inspired the world and me, personally. All seven of you are amazing, strong and honorable women, the true daughters of Sagarmatha. I appreciate receiving the honor of interviewing you. Dhanyabaad!
(Editor: I got this message today (December 7th, 2014) from Pema Diki Sherpa, "We are busy doing preparation for our last venture. We will depart on upcoming Saturday which is 13th December 2014, and will return back on 9th January, 2015.")
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook page: 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © of the designated photographer and used with Pema Diki Sherpa's written permission.
On the Cover:
The Seven Summits Women Team
The Daughters of Everest Tell Their Story
Cover Date: December 6th, 2014