Climber from UAE scales 8,000-metre mountain in Nepal - and plans next ascent

Naila Kiani battles foot infection to ascend 8,163m Mt Manaslu, with sights now set on China

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A Pakistani climber has scaled Mount Manaslu in Nepal in her bid to become the first woman in the UAE to climb all 14 of the world's mountains over 8,000 metres.

Naila Kiani, 37, completed the challenge of scaling Manaslu – the world's eighth highest mountain at 8,163 metres – on September 21 after a 12-hour ascent through the night, after which she returned to Kathmandu.

The adventurer from Dubai is now preparing to fly to China to take on the Tibetan peaks of Shishapangma and Cho Oyu.

I want to prove the strength of women from Pakistan with a Muslim background who are living in the UAE
Naila Kiani

Despite having the weather on her side, Ms Kiani was forced to overcome illness during the climb up Manaslu.

"We had really good weather for Manaslu so it was straightforward," she told The National.

"The problem was I was not well, as I had an infection on my foot and lips, so I had been taking antibiotics and not feeling great."

Had it been a more challenging peak to conquer, it would have been a problem, she said.

"Climbing one 8,000-metre peak is a challenge, physically and mentally, and I have climbed six so far this year," she said.

Ms Kiani, who took up climbing only two years ago, has already scaled K2, Mount Everest, Lhotse and Annapurna in Nepal, as well as Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II in Pakistan, and Broad Reach on the border with China.

She was joined on the Manaslu expedition by an international support group that included a Pakistani, American, Japanese, Macedonian and Nepalese climber, as well as a small group of Nepalese sherpas.

Once all the peaks in the so-called super 14 are ticked off, Ms Kiani has her sights set firmly on returning home.

"I feel homesick so I just want to get these other mountains out of the way so I can go home and focus on my family and career," she said.

Ms Kiani said she wants to demonstrate the strength of women from Pakistan with Muslim backgrounds who are living in the UAE.

"We can do whatever we want to and I want to prove what is possible," she added.

"Even if you have a family, like me, I have shown you don't have to lose that adventurous side of your personality and you can still take on something that is super challenging."

Updated: September 27, 2023, 4:17 AM