Saudi women receive awards after climb to Mount Everest Base Camp


A group of Saudi women received awards on Wednesday in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah after climbing up the world’s highest mountain to the Base Camp of Mount Everest, in a bid to raise cancer awareness.

The age of women climbers ranged between 25 and 50 years.

The 11 climbers began their expedition on May 7 completing their trek in 12 days.

The ascent to Base Camp, which is located 5,364 meters above sea level, took nine days. Then they walked down in three days.

Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud led the team in the cancer awareness campaign, which has been entitled ‘A Woman’s Journey: Destination Mount Everest.’

Zahra Breast Cancer Association sponsored the climb along with other organizations.

The women’s campaign hopes to inspire other Saudi women in leading a healthier lifestyle and educate the public about the causes and effects of breast cancer as well as the importance of early detection.

Over 60 studies in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia have shown that physically-active women have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than inactive women.

According to the Saudi Cancer Registry at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center, breast cancer has increased accounting for 7.6 percent of all cancer cases in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago to the current 24 percent of all cancer cases.

Every year over 8,000 Saudi Arabian women are diagnosed with breast cancer and an average 50 to 60 percent are diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Lina Almaeena, one of the climbers, said the proportion of the Saudi female population who are breast cancer sufferers is comparatively high.

“Globally speaking, the highest proportion of women who get breast cancer, particularly at a young age, is in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They get cancer at the age of 40, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; woman can be 18 years old and can get the disease,” said Lina.

Suzanne al-Houby, a Palestinian, was the first Arab woman to reach the peak of Mount Everest.

The women climbers call themselves the “Pink Warriors,” as pink is the color associated to raise breast cancer awareness worldwide.

“Each one of the climbers has a sister or friend or is a relative of either a survivor of breast cancer or a person still being treated for cancer. Some of the campaign members have more than one person who is infected. Each participant joined the campaign with the image of a particular cancer victim in her mind,” said Hasnaa Mokhtar, media director for the campaign and a member of the climbing team.

Following the climb, the women climbers said they were aware of the dangers of the challenging expedition which was an eye opener for the challenges of women who had overcome and fought breast cancer.

The women prepared for their expedition to Mount Everest Base Camp by climbing heights in Jeddah, Mecca and other parts of Saudi Arabia.