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Iranian female climbers ready to scale Mount Everest

New Delhi, May 27, IRNA-Farkhondeh Sadegh and Leila Bahrami, two gritty women are leading a team of seven Iranian women to the daunting task of climbing the world's tallest mountain peak, Mount Everest, `The Hindu' reported from New Delhi on Friday.

Sadegh and Bahrami have been both to Nepal before and are seasoned climbers. They climbed Mount Pumori, a steep mountain of 7,161 metres, 8km away from Everest in 2001.

All the members of the team are aged between 25 and 36 years, and except for Sadegh and Bahrami, all the other members are in the Nepalese Himalayas for the first time.

The Iranian team was selected out of 69 applicants who responded when last year the Iranian Mountaineering Federation threw open the offer to climb Everest before the country's women climbing enthusiasts.

Seven women were picked up and private sponsors came forward with Dlrs 400,000 needed for the whole expedition.

"As a mountaineer, I would like to do it as well as I can; on the other hand, I would like to do it for Muslim women," says the 32-year-old Bahrami.

"People often seem to think Muslim women are restricted. It would be a good chance to show the world that something like this is possible for us," she adds.

"Everest is not that technical of a mountain. However, there is the altitude, and I have never been that high before. But I am 95 percent sure that I will get to the top," says Sadegh.

"Many were very surprised when I told them I was going. They asked me whether a woman was really able to climb that mountain. My friends and family pray for me," Sadegh, 36, goes on before signing off with, "But I am going to climb that mountain and I am going to come down alive." Everest is a challenge that every climber wants to meet. Though a lot of climbers have come forward to climb the highest summit in the world, strong female climbers are still an exception. Only 100 or so women have reached the peak of Everest to date which is a very low ratio compared to 1,485 men who topped the peak.

The Iranian team also have no intention of swapping their headscarves for the traditional hats and balaclavas. This is how the women climbed Alborz mountains north of the Iranian capital.

"We wear our headscarves all the time as we don't want to show our hair, so it should not be a problem to wear them to Everest - they will keep us warm." If the team from Iran succeed, they will be the first Muslim women to scale the 8,848 meter Mount Everest.

... Payvand News - 5/27/05 ... --

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