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Diaspo #100 : Mariam Ktiri, the Moroccan who climbed the world’s seven summits in one year

In one year only, Management Consultant Mariam Ktiri left her office in Germany for a challenge that broke world’s records. The Casablanca-native climbed the world’s seven summits in one year. And even more, she climbed Lhotse 8516m, the fourth highest mountain in the world few hours after Everest.

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Moroccan national Mariam Ktiri who climbed the world's seven summits in one year. / Ph. Mariam Ktiri

The least one can say about Mariam Ktiri is that she is a goal-driven woman, who sets a target and goes for it. As a child, the Casablanca-native was more of an outdoors girl. She liked climbing trees, biking and being in the open air.

As a little girl, she grew quite fond of nature and couldn’t stop herself from embracing its challenges. «I was a curious kid, always asking questions and not really sticking to the classic format of girls my age», Mariam, who currently lives in Switzerland, told Yabiladi.

At school, the young girl was fascinated with languages. While studying in Casablanca, she decided to head for the top and move to Germany to pursue her studies.

After graduating high school and studying in Morocco for two years, she moved to southern Germany, where she decided to study Business Administration and Management. Studying in Germany was an important yet challenging chapter of Mariam’s life.

Studying in Germany

To her, the whole experience came with a lot of responsibility and a feeling of independence for a young woman who was very sheltered by her family. Living abroad allows you to «rely on yourself and make your own decisions», Mariam pointed out.

While at university, the Moroccan woman kept herself busy, enrolling in students’ associations and getting into sports.

However, the beginning was no easy task for the Casablanca-native, who, despite her fluency in German, was faced with linguistic barriers. In fact, in southern Germany where Mariam’s university was located, people speak Bavarian, a local German dialect, which was «completely different» from the standard German she had been learning.

«I remember once at university, I was in a math class, where the professor started giving a lecture in the Bavarian dialect. I had tears in my eyes at some point, saying to myself : Oh my God, what is he talking about?!».

Mariam Ktiri

Against all odds, Mariam managed to overcome all of it. She obtained her University degree and went for a trilingual master’s degree in International Relations and European Studies. After finishing her studies, she found herself a job in the consulting field. But her love for setting goals and taking up challenges did not stop there. To get a work/life balance, Mariam started hiking with her friends in Bavaria, the region where she lived.

«Hiking is a common hobby in the Bavarian region, I enjoyed it a lot», she recalled. But hiking was just an introduction to the world of alpinism for Mariam, who quickly wanted to discover other disciplines. Her eyes went wide when she heard about climbing Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. She became a member of the German Alpine Club and took classes with them to learn new alpinism disciplines and to gain expertise in this field.

Climbing the world's seven summits

«The way how they described it and their experience made me think that it is interesting and that I would like to try it», she recalled before speaking about her biggest challenge. The Moroccan woman successfully climbed the world’s seven summits, becoming the first Moroccan, German and Arab woman to complete the challenge in one year, starting from May 2018 to May 2019.

But this hard work needed a lot of patience, preparation and a concrete and well-studied plan. «I decided to start the challenge five years before actually completing it», she proudly declared. «The hardest thing about climbing these summits was the preparation phase», she stressed.

To the management consultant, planning the challenge and getting ready for it is a primordial step. She had to get ready physically and mentally, purchase the right gear, set a target and raise funds for it. «I had to work on all of these aspects and it was not the easiest thing to do», she said.

To reach her target and climb the seven summits, Mariam took long and separate vacations for the trips as she couldn’t just quit her job to complete the challenge.

While trying to reach her goal, she decided to do the Everest/Lhotse combo, climbing the two summits in one go. According to the Himalayan Database, a large digital record of mountaineering, Mariam is the first German and Arab woman to climb the Everest/Lhotse combo at once.

This project was a big step in the alpinist’s life. «I was highly motivated by it», she proudly said. After completing her challenge in May, 2019, she realized how much this whole thing meant to her.

The journey made her learn a couple of lessons. One of them was that «women are strong enough» to achieve their targets and goals no matter what they are. «We have our cultures and rules but they can’t be barriers for us, we can simply reach what we want», she added.

Mariam’s next objectives and challenges are about helping other people achieve similar feats. She is sharing her experience online with her followers and is planning to reach a wider audience. «I want to support future alpinists who want to take up similar challenges, motivate them and make them discover my story», Mariam said.

The young woman is also planning to come to Morocco and share her know-how hands-on with local organizations and associations interested in alpinism to help young Moroccans follow her footsteps.

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