Wasfia Nazreen began her endeavour to climb the 7 Summits in 2011, and accomplished this massive feat in 2015 becoming the first Bangladeshi ever to do so.
On 22 July 2022, she also became the first Bangladeshi to have climbed K2, the world's most dangerous mountain to climb and the second highest peak.
She arrived in Bangladesh yesterday (17 August) and told the tale of her journey at the Sheraton Hotel in Banani.
Wasfia Nazreen mentioned how, throughout history, we usually see men accomplish things before women get the opportunity to. "However, Bangladesh has stood out as the odd example, where a woman has accomplished it before a man," Wasfia playfully commented on Bangladesh's mountaineering field.
However, her ambition to climb K2 was not a spontaneous one nor is it one that happened over just months. Instead, the journey of climbing K2 started 11 long years ago in 2011 when the thought of taking on the dangerous mountain first crossed her mind.
To prepare for the challenge, she got in touch with people who had already climbed K2 to learn about training. She studied the path till she knew every obstacle she would have to face like the back of her hand. Her physical training was rigorous as well, where she constantly pushed to be faster and stronger.
"For me, walking the stairs from 150 to 200 floors every day is absolutely mandatory," she said.
K2, only 200 metres lower than Mount Everest, is popularly known as a mountain that "tries to kill you." While most might assume that physical strength carries the most importance, Wasfia has a different perspective.
"About 90% of your drive has to be mental strength. Even if your body can endure high altitudes, you still might not have the mental strength to react appropriately in the face of danger to make the best decisions for your team," explained Wasfia.
The conversation about mental strength is what made her open up about the true terrors of K2. It is not uncommon for climbers to come across dead bodies of people who attempted the climb in the past. The bodies are usually mangled and broken, you could find a shoe with nothing but a leg in it.
"When you see these bodies, you think 'I must be next.' When your mind goes into a negative space, it is very easy to lose yourself," she added.
In addition to that, 1,300 feet below the summit, the climbers face the most difficult part of the mountain, the bottleneck. The bottleneck is a 90-degree slope on the mountain, where chunks of ice constantly fall. The mountaineer had to climb the blue ice with many more climbers on the one rope for 18 hours straight.
Yet, just as her thoughts began to plague her mind, Nirmal Purja, the leader of her team, emerged as a glimmer of hope, yelling out to her, "I am so proud of you!" After reaching the summit, Wasfia was overwhelmed with her emotions and cried her heart out.
"It felt like a surrender and proof of the 10 years of hard work," she said.
However, reaching the summit of K2 was only half the battle. Descending from mountains is more dangerous as that is when most deaths occur.
Her struggles did not stop though, even after the descent. While she might not have been able to sleep throughout the climb due to her nerves, she could not rest even after reaching Islamabad as she kept remembering the dead bodies.
"You are stuck with a feeling of guilt for leaving the dead behind," Wasfia reflected.
After facing the mountain that did its best to break her mind and body, Wasfia emerged victorious. Yet, the mountaineer exclaimed that she had done this for her country, making this a victory for Bangladesh.
As she brought her story to an end, her voice broke while adding, "Hopefully this will bring new courage to help you all face the K2 in your lives. We have a lot of strength, why don't we explore it?"