Ethnic Kazakh woman conquers Denali's highest peak

Ethnic Kazakh woman conquers Denali's highest peak
Photo credit: Indira Weaver

Indira Weaver (Sakhaulova), a native of the village of Sosnovka in the Beskaragai district of Kazakhstan's Semipalatinsk region, has become the first ethnic Kazakh woman to reach the summit of Denali, North America's highest peak, Kazinform reports.

Indira, 46, who is married to Simon Weaver and mother of two children lives in the UK. The Kazakh woman has a passion for mountain climbing and often links her expeditions to fundraising efforts for various causes.

Indira’s latest conquest was Denali, standing at 6,194 metres. The 18-day expedition was a gruelling challenge with no porters, helpers, or helicopters. The Kazakh woman and her team had to carry all their personal gear, group equipment, food supplies, tents, and clean mountain cans on their backs and sledges. The climb took place on the Kahiltna Glacier, where the risk of falling into crevasses necessitated that team members be roped together at all times.

Ethnic Kazakh woman conquers Denali's highest peak
Photo credit: Indira Weaver

"I am incredibly proud to have reached the top of Denali and to have taken the Kazakhstan flag, a painting by Mr. Karipbek Kuyukov, and Abai Kunanbaev's 'Words of Education' with me," Indira said.

Her achievement follows in the footsteps of Ludmila Savina, who in 2000 became the first Kazakh woman to climb Denali and in 1997 the first woman from independent Kazakhstan to summit Everest.

Indira's journey is not just about personal achievement but also raising awareness about the Semipalatinsk Polygon's long-term effects. Born 130 kilometres from the polygon, she has witnessed the consequences of radiation exposure firsthand.

Together with artist Karipbek Kuyukov, she aims to raise global awareness about the devastating impacts of nuclear tests on the local population and ecosystem. Kuyukov created a unique painting for their mutual project, which Indira took to Denali.

Ethnic Kazakh woman conquers Denali's highest peak
Photo credit: Indira Weaver

Their long-term goal includes establishing a Sensory day centre in Semey for affected children and adults. In the meantime, they are raising funds through a GoFundMe campaign for a baby orphanage in Semey, which cares for children with physical and neurological birth defects often linked to radiation-induced genetic mutations.

Indira’s climbing resume is impressive, having previously scaled Toubkal (4,167m) in the Atlas mountains, Mont Blanc (4,805m) in Western Europe, Kilimanjaro (5,895m) in Africa, Elbrus (5,642m) in Europe, and Aconcagua (6,962m) in South America.

She aims to complete the Seven summits project, which involves climbing the highest peak on each continent. With Denali now conquered, she has three remaining: Carstensz Pyramid in Australasia, Vinson in Antarctica, and Everest in Asia.

Ethnic Kazakh woman conquers Denali's highest peak
Photo credit: Indira Weaver

In 2023, Indira also took Abai Kunanbaev’s "Words of education" and Kuyukov's painting to the top of Aconcagua. This project raised significant funds for her school in Sosnovka and the UK children’s charity, The Link Foundation.

Indira's dedication to her climbs and the causes she supports exemplifies her commitment to making a difference. Her latest achievement on Denali stands as a testament to her strength, resilience, and the enduring spirit of Kazakhstan.

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