The famous Iranian mountaineer, Leila Esfandyari fell to her death on 22nd July while descending Gasherbrum 2, one the highest peaks on the Karakoram range of the Himalaya. In this multimedia report, first published on Jadidonline last February, Leila Esfandyari spoke about her life and love of mountain climbing:
Climbing the Wild Peak
Leila Esfandyari is the first Iranian woman who has attempted to conquer K2- the world’s second highest mountain after Mount Everest. Located in the Karakoram Range near the border of Pakistan and China, it was given the name K2 because it was the second peak measured in this range. K2 is one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous mountains to climb as it is prone to frequent and severe storms that make the already treacherous climbing conditions even more challenging, hence its nickname ‘the Savage Mountain’. The number of people to have reached the summit is only a small fraction of those who have successfully climbed Mount Everest. K2 has also had a significantly higher fatality rate in proportion to the number of those who have tried to climb it.
Leila’s attempt to reach the summit took seventy three days, including the thirty days she spent at the base camp at an altitude of 5000 metres, in order to acclimatize and prepare herself physically for the challenge. She succeeded in climbing as far as Camp 3 at an altitude of 7565 metres, covering more than three-quarters of the distance to the peak. But unfortunately, atrocious weather conditions and continual avalanches prevented her and all the other experienced climbers from proceeding further.
Having been unable to find a sponsor, the venture cost her an enormous amount of money, for which she had to sell her share in a house which was her only asset. Previously, she had even had to give up her job as a microbiologist in a Tehran hospital, in order to fulfill her goal of climbing the second most difficult mountain in the world- Nanga Parbat. It must have been a sacrifice worth making, as the expedition, in the company of an Iranian team three years ago, ended successfully.
Leila Esfandyari started her training as a professional climber at the Damavand Mountaineering Club ten years ago, and together with the members of the Club, she has climbed all of the mountain peaks of Iran. She was also trained in caving and rock climbing- the sports in which she is still interested and pursues whenever she has the chance. In spite of two operations on her spinal disks, she has not given up the physical exercises which she regularly carries out at home under the supervision of a specialist. She is determined to continue climbing professionally, and hopes to have the opportunity to climb several more of the 14 summits with altitudes of more than 8000 metres.
In this multimedia report, we follow the footsteps of this dedicated and courageous mountaineer in her journey towards the challenging summit of K2.