9. TASHI AND NUNGSHI MALIK, Everest Summiteers and Activists
Mountaineering has long been a surprisingly democratic pursuit, in which the old routinely outperform the young and women are often stronger than men. For Indian twins Tashi and Nungshi Malik, mountaineering felt like the perfect way to highlight gender inequality in their home country; they became the first twins to summit Everest in 2013, at the age of 21. And that was just the beginning of their incredible journey—one year later they had climbed all of the Seven Summits, and a year after that, they had skied to both the North and South Pole, becoming the youngest people ever to achieve what’s known as the “Explorers Grand Slam” at just 24.
The Malik’s adventure accomplishments are undeniable. But it’s what drove them to achieve so much at such a young age—and the societal oppression they had to overcome—that makes them remarkable. Having grown up in a society in which nearly all sports are off-limits to girls, their dreams seemed impossible and it was their father, of all people, who pushed them to ignore gender and pursue their passion. They’re already planning their next adventure: they have their eyes on the world’s four largest ice caps.”
“[India’s girls] have numerous ‘Mountains to climb’ to merely survive,” Nungshi once said. “We’ve resolved to stand solidly with them and pledge all our resources to help them earn their rightful and equal place in society.”
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