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DHAHRAN: On June 20, Sondos Jaan embarked on a journey to the highest peak in the Arab world.

It’s the latest episode in Jaan’s love for mountain adventures, but to understand her fascination, it’s important to look back at her childhood.

She told Arab News: “I am from Medina. I was born in a city where I could see a mountain from my bedroom window, and I could see mountains when I walked the streets.’

A picture of Sondos Jaan aged about 5 on top of a mountain with his father. (Supplied)

These highlights were an important part of her early childhood. On top of the mountains are photos of Jaan aged about 5 years. She said: “I call these pictures ‘Sondos between two mountains’, a real mountain carved in nature, and my father.”

During family camping trips, she would sneak off when her family wasn’t paying attention to climb the mountain.

HIGHLIGHTS

• For his latest adventure, Sondos Jaan climbs Morocco’s Toubkal mountain, which is 4,167 meters high.

• The ascent has two routes: The first takes three days of climbing and the second takes two days, but is more demanding.

She added: “I heard my dad calling me to stay put and wait for him. My dear father came to me, and then we climbed together step by step, telling me where to put my feet until we reached the top, and then we would come down together, just the two of us.’

Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls who read about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up the sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)

Her father was the first adventurer she knew. He says he was always prepared and “his car was always ready for a road trip.”

She said: “When he came back from hunting, whether on land or at sea, he would tell me stories. I would imagine those stories as if he was the hero in one of the animated movies I saw. Sometimes he took me with him and I felt like I was part of the story.’

Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls who read about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up the sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)

Her father instilled a love of adventure in her since childhood. And climbing seems to be in her DNA.

Jaan said: “My father is my main climbing coach and I definitely inherited his spirit of adventure and love of travel, adventure and camping.

Sondos Jaan from Madinah hopes that young Saudi girls who read about her adventures will feel encouraged to take up the sports and hobbies they are passionate about. (Supplied)

“He taught me how to swim, ride a horse, hunt, fish and the basics of camping.”

For their latest adventure, Jaan and a friend climb the Moroccan mountain Toubkal, which is 4,167 meters high. The ascent has two routes: the first takes three days of climbing and the second takes two days, but is more demanding.

File photo of Sondos Jaan when she was about five years old. (Supplied)

They started the ascent early, continued for about nine to 11 hours, followed by an overnight stay at an altitude of 3,200 meters above sea level.

He believes that elements of nature are instilled in each of us, and it is our duty—and privilege—to find and channel those elements.

She said the climb to Everest Base Camp was the most difficult trek she had attempted so far. It was a two-week trip, and she added that for two days before arriving at base camp, she couldn’t sleep, eat well or breathe properly due to lack of oxygen. However, these were not the main factors that led to her most difficult ascent.

She said: “The main reason was simply to manage expectations. I was emotional after walking all that time and reaching what was supposed to be the peak of this journey, only to realize that it wasn’t even the peak.

“It was the main camp where climbers camped for two months each year before attempting to reach the summit of Everest, allowing their bodies to acclimatize to the lack of oxygen, train and wait for the right time to climb the summit.”

The experience taught her a valuable lesson and she added: “I remember coming down and as soon as we sat down in one of the tea rooms, I burst into tears.

“They asked me why. I said I wanted pizza and I cried. The owners of the house tried hard to make me pizza. I ate one slice and gave the rest to their dog. I thought about my feelings and asked myself, ‘Why did I act like that?’ And the simple answer was that we didn’t reach the top, we just saw it up close.’

He considers the excitement of the journey, and not only of its destination, to be worth taking. He now believes that the feeling of almost giving up occurs with every climb; he sees it as a healthy sign.

She added: “It’s a reminder that I’m human. It is also a reminder that I am able to do things that may seem impossible, not because I have superhuman strength, but because I am a person who can overcome challenges. That gives me the motivation to finish the climb.”

She believes her latest adventure also serves a greater purpose. Seeing the Saudi woman getting involved in various fields, especially sports, helps encourage her to continue to strive for the highest heights.

She hopes that young girls who read about her adventures will feel encouraged to pursue sports and hobbies that they are passionate about, and that their experiences will help them push their boundaries to break down stereotypes and barriers.

She is to continue her ascent, whether it be a mountain to climb or towards the goals of her gender.

For those starting out, she advised, “(You have to) start with small, achievable goals and gradually increase the level of difficulty. Make sure you have the right gear and training: it’s important to be physically and mentally prepared.

“Join a climbing community or group for support and motivation. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and enjoy the journey.”

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