Bouchra Baibanou, a software engineer from Rabat, is on track to summit the “7 Summits” having just completed her second to last climb – the infamous Mt. Everest. This is no story of a famous athlete with lavish brand endorsements. Rather the journey of one determined woman to not give up on her dream. Bouchra could be you or me. She’s a hardworking software engineer, mother, wife; who had a dream to climb the tallest mountains on each continent. Through hard work, determination, and just not giving up she is completing her dream.
The 7 Summits summit are the highest point on each of the world’s continents. To date she has summited: Mt. Kilimanjaro (5895 meters), Mt. Elbrus (5642 meters), Aconcagua (6962 meters), Mt. Blanc (4880 meters), Denali aka Mt. McKinley (6194 meters), Puncak Jaya (4884 meters) Mt. Everest (8,848 meters). All that is left to climb on her quest is Mt. Venson in Antarctica ( 4,892 meters).
Through her 7 Summits project she aims to inspire young Moroccans to accomplish their goals. She also speaks on empowering women in Morocco to believe they can accomplish anything.
In 2015, we featured Baibanou on the ArchaeoAdventures’ podcast, you can listen to that interview here. At the time, she was setting her sights on Mt. Everest, which in May of 2017 she submitted.
Climbing Mt. Everest is not only about the physical and technical challenges, but it’s also hard mentally. It’s a climb about patience, perseverance and staying mentally strong while waiting for the right moment to make the next move on the climb. It took Bouchra 55 days to summit Mt. Everest.
“All the expedition to base camp to camp 4 is very difficult. It was not easy. We worked around 12 hours by day and with the weather not good [very very cold and lots of wind] it was challenging. But the most difficult was the last part from Camp 4 to the Summit….Even more difficult is going down. Most people who have accidents it happens going down. I told myself I only achieve the submit if I also come down.”
No climb of Mt. Everest is easy, Baibanou had to persevere through terrible weather, the technical climbing involved in scaling Everest, the doldrums that mentally challenge climbers taking almost 2 months to climb the mountain, altitude sickness, snow blindness and even some frostbrite. Throughout these challenges it was her perspective and determination that saw her through to her goal.
“How I stayed strong to reach the summit was that I was very focused on my goal. I told myself I am here for 2 months and I dream about the summit for many years……I worked hard for many years. I am here. I am grateful. I will do my best. I will not think about anything else but just focus on now. I will not think about the future or the past, only now.” “Every step for me. Every camp. It was the most important for me. I will not think about the summit, I will just think about the next camp. When I reached the next camp, I said ok I’ll think about that next camp. I did that until I reached the summit.”
I asked Baibanou is she had any advice for anyone who is trying to accomplish a goal. She said, “Dare to dream…..Then start step by step. You can’t climb Everest all at once. You must climb camp 1, camp 2, and so on. Everything in life is that way, you must start and then be focused on your objective and your goal. Even if you have problems don’t tell yourself ‘no I can’t.’ Never give up, keep going. Be very strong mentally and you will reach your objective.”
Wise words from a woman who has overcome many obstacles to achieve some big goals.
I asked her about how her accomplishments have affected people in Morocco. “Morocco is changing,” she said. “[Women] want to do something different. Many young women want to do things outside and participate in adventure sports. Many Moroccans, both women and men, are becoming adventurers and professional athletes.”
And Bouchra is leading the way, showing what is possible for women, and for all Moroccans, through adventure sports. Changing perspectives through high altitude expeditions.
Up next for Baibanou is Mt Venson in Antarctica at the end of 2018. With that last peak she will, she will be the first Moroccan to complete all 7 Summits. You can follow Bouchra’s expedition and her work changing perspectives on what women can do on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.