x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Female mountaineer reaches new heights

A mountaineer has added the highest peak in the Americas to her record of summit successes.

DUBAI // A mountaineer has added the highest peak in the Americas to her record of summit successes. Suzanne al Houby, the vice-president of the Dubai Bone and Joint Centre, reached the 6,962-metre summit of Mount Aconcagua, Argentina, on Feb 15 after a two-week struggle. "It started snowing approximately 50 metres below the summit," she said. The harsh weather meant that, after her gruelling climb, she was disappointed by the view.

"I became the first Arab woman to stand at this summit. Tears fell down, I thanked God and unfortunately could not enjoy a 360-degree view of the Andes range due to the snowfall," the 41-year-old said. Reaching the peak did not mean an end to the trials of her journey. On the way down, she started to show symptoms of pulmonary oedema, a condition where the lungs are filled with liquid because of the high altitude. However, Ms al Houby, who stands at just 162cm, and weighs 50kg, said that her hardships were mild compared with those faced by people in Gaza at the same time that she made her trip.

"Climbing Aconcagua makes me feel that there's a way out of this misery, that we can do things," she said. Aconcagua is Ms al Houby's latest achievement in an impressive record. She said she was the first Arab woman to scale Kilimanjaro and Mont Blanc, and has her sights set next on Alaska's Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. She is even hoping to tackle Mount Everest one day. And while her husband and two daughters think her passion for climbing is "crazy", she said nothing could persuade her to give it up.

"They wonder why I would subject myself to such hardships when I tell them how long I have to go on an expedition without a shower, but at the same time there's envy that I can pursue my dreams uninhibited." Ms al Houby said she hoped her feat would encourage other Arab women to challenge the status quo. "Getting out of our comfort zone is key and so is telling women that it's OK to be different ... it's okay to toughen it up and to rough it," she said.

* The National