Dubai resident who climbed Everest reveals how she had to conquer online trolls

Naila Kiani has been abused on the internet and called a 'fake mountaineer in a man's sport'

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A Dubai resident who conquered Everest last week has revealed how she has had to overcome abuse from online trolls.

Naila Kiani, 37, has climbed six of the world’s highest peaks in the last two years.

It was a little more than a year ago that the Pakistani banker quit her job to focus on reaching new heights.

However, it is only now, having climbed Everest, that she feels she is receiving the respect she deserves.

“Because I’m a woman from Pakistan, nobody took me seriously in my own country as a mountain climber,” Ms Kiani told The National.

Social media abuse

“They were calling me things like a fake mountaineer. I guess it’s because it was a sport seen to be associated more with men than women," she said of messages which largely came from social media accounts based in her own country.

“A lot of trolls didn’t seem to like what I was doing and would comment on it. It used to get to me but I try not to let it affect me any more.”

Last week, she became only the second Pakistani women to reach the top of Everest, a climb of about 8,850m.

The achievement was all the more remarkable given that the mother of two has only been climbing mountains for two years.

At one point, last year, she felt that if she was going to complete her dream – of climbing the 14 highest mountains around the world – she would need to leave her day job.

The 14 peaks are all famous for standing taller than 8,000m high.

“I climbed my first peak during maternity leave. There was no problem when I then asked my boss if I could have six weeks’ leave off to climb another,” said Ms Kiani.

“It was all approved and then, at the very last minute, they cancelled it. Now the same people who wouldn’t give me permission to go are congratulating me."

Remarkable career change

Ms Kiani said she made the difficult decision to quit her job and used her gratuity to fund her love for mountaineering.

Since then, she has conquered six of the world’s tallest peaks – Everest, K2, Lhotse, Annapurna, Gasherbrum 1 and Gasherbrum II.

She began climbing mountains seven months after giving birth to her second daughter.

“I was always a sporty girl and was an amateur boxer in the past. I was always competitive and I liked exploring,” she said.

This led to her to take on Gasherbrum II, which stands at slightly more than 8,000m on the border between Pakistan and China.

“I never thought I would be able to reach the summit but I managed it without any problem,” she said. “This encouraged to try more mountains and it has become an addiction.”

Not content with conquering Everest last week, she went on to reach the summit of Lhotse, the world’s fourth-highest mountain, before returning home to Dubai this week.

Next month, she plans to climb both Nanga Parbat (8,126m) and Broad Peak (8,051m).

Ms Kiani also plans to open her own business with a friend, which she describes as adventure life coaching. She expects it to give her the flexibility to continue her passion for mountaineering.

She hopes that her adventures will go some way to inspire more women to follow in her footsteps, and follow their passions.

“My message to women in a similar situation to me is never believe anything is not possible,” she said.

“I would also say to men from my culture to support the women in their lives who talk of adventurous things, be it a wife or a sister, because they could be achieving something amazing.”

Updated: May 25, 2023, 10:28 AM