Abu Dhabi-based trekker and self-titled ‘peak freak’ Hanady Alhashmi is the first Emirati woman to summit the highest mountain in North America, Denali, making her part of the small 30 percent of people to have ever done so. Editor Rachael Perrett speaks with the outdoor enthusiast about the threat of frostbite and finding inspiration through social media
Earlier this year you summited the 6,190m Denali. Was it what you expected?
It was such an experience! I had a wonderful team and our guides were amazing; the food was great too. Everything else – the cold, fear of frostbite, pulling a sled, climbing – was all part of the deal. I trained well enough and I knew I was ready for it.
You held up a UAE flag at the peak. How did it make you feel?
I felt proud to represent my country, along with its leaders and people that have supported women and myself all the way. There is no better feeling than being on top of the world together with my nation by my side.
You suffered from a chest infection during the expedition. Did you ever think about quitting?
I never thought of quitting, but I was afraid my condition would get so bad that I’d have to be turned down by the guides. I remember I was fine every morning, but I’d get so much worse by night; I had a horrible time sleeping.
Most people think of places like Nepal and North America when they think of trekking. Do you think the UAE is worthy of being promoted as a place to go trekking?
Definitely! There is so much potential here in the UAE. We have lots to see, explore and learn about, from abandoned villages, wadis, mountains, copper mines, animals and much more. Well-defined tracks will allow more people to enjoy the outdoors while enhancing their safety.
As an Emirati/Arab woman, what challenges have you faced as an adventurer?
I am so grateful that I found amazing groups of people that took me exploring and hiking. I probably wasn’t used to mixed groups at first, but there weren’t any ladies-only trips back then, or not many. I pushed myself to join some groups, as long as I felt safe and comfortable with them. Surprisingly, almost all my trips I have seen women outnumbered men.
Do you think of yourself as an inspiration to other women?
I believe it is easier now to inspire others and inspire ourselves using social media channels. I enjoy seeing how other girls train, win races and climb up peaks. I hope that others do also see what I do and feel inspired.
The UAE is very big on promoting healthy and active lifestyles. Do you think more women need to take up activities and sports and explore the outdoors?
There are many sport activities out there to choose from and it is more about trying out different things and seeing what they feel comfortable doing and most importantly, enjoy doing, so it can stick permanently.
From my own experience, I have seen that going on outdoor adventures not only helps to get you fit physically, but may also be able to develop you mentally and emotionally as well. There are many benefits from increasing confidence and positivity levels as well as improving your social skills and making friends with
To find out about Hanady’s next adventure, follow @hanadyalhashmi on Instagram.