In May 2022, Nayla Al Baloushi became the first Emirati woman to climb Nepal’s Mount Everest. The passionate climber reached the 8,849-metre summit on May 14th in temperatures that dropped below minus 40-degrees towards the top.
But Nayla didn’t let that distract her from her goal of reaching the peak of the world’s tallest mountain. Always keeping the task in hand at the front of her mind, she braved the elements to reach the top. It took Nayla ten days to reach the world’s highest peak from the base camp to the summit and she climbed with a Nepalese Sherpa guide who was with her through her journey. While she didn’t undertake any specific training for the challenge, Nayla is no stranger to activity. She is a regular runner who also enjoys cycling when the weather allows, her active lifestyle helped her to achieve this incredible goal. Here we find out more about the challenges she had to overcome and what it means to her to be the first Emirati woman to reach this peak.
Congratulations on your recent achievement – tell us what was going through your head when you reached the peak of Mount Everest?
Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just so happy to arrive there and I was looking for somewhere to take photos! I went to the top alone just with my Sherpa guide, but there were other people there on the summit when we arrived. All I could see around me were clouds and the other summits below us.
Tell us about the process and physical training you undertook before tackling Mount Everest?
I didn’t do too much training other than my regular daily routine which includes running, sometimes cycling and general training. I am always a very active person so this meant I was well prepared for the challenge.
And how do you train mentally for something like this?
I just knew that I really wanted to climb Mount Everest and that was all I was thinking about. I kept that goal in my mind and focused on it until I achieved it.
During your climb what was the most difficult moment and how did you overcome that?
Actually, everything went very smoothly, there was no single point when I wated to turn around or that I wasn’t going to make it. All I was thinking about was getting to the summit.
How did you celebrate when you came back down?
There was a cake for me at the base camp!
What does it mean to you to be the first Emirati woman to achieve this monumental goal?
I’m still in shock that I was the first Emirati woman to do this! I knew I was going to be the first, but I did not know that the reaction would be so great, it was just something that I wanted to do. I still can’t believe the reaction that I’ve had.
You’ve climbed Mount Everest – what’s next on your list?
There is nothing right now but even if I was going to take on another challenge, I wouldn’t announce it until it’s done because I think it’s better to keep it to myself.
Where and when do you like to climb?
I usually climb in the winter as it’s very difficult to do it when the weather is hot. We don’t have many mountains here in the UAE so I mostly travel abroad to climb. There is no specific destination as every mountain has its own challenges but I love to visit many different countries. I prefer the warmer weather to the cold, but not too hot!
Why do you think it’s important to have a day that celebrates women in the UAE?
I think it’s important to show the achievements and the hard work that Emirati women are putting into everything and do and it gives us all a chance to appreciate this.
What is a message you would share with other women in the UAE?
Every goal is possible. You might need hard work to reach it but there is nothing you can’t do.
Is there anything you would still like to do that you haven’t done yet?
There are always things I would like to try but there is nothing specifically in my mind right now.
Who is a woman that inspires you?
My family inspires me – my mother, she’s so patient!
What is a motto that you live by?
There is a quote from the Quran which translates to “I will not give up until I reach”, which reflects what was going through my mind when I was climbing Mount Everest.
Who is Nayla as a person?
It’s hard for me to describe myself but I think I am a very patient person and I think this is how people see me.