#SportBits … The Mountaineering Malik Twins

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Nungshi and Tashi Malik are twin sisters from the small Himalayan town of Dehradun, India. They come from a culture where gender inferiority keeps many girls from playing sports, but that didn’t stop the Malik twins…

The girls grew up on playing fields. That is where they felt the freedom from gender bias and ridicule that came from the boys and teachers at school.  However, the Maliks wouldn’t be discouraged. With the support of their father, who had to overcome his own fears of not having a son, the girls set out to blaze their own path in sports – a path that lead them right up the side of a mountain.

When the girls were young their father took them on hikes, exposing them to the beauty and strength of the Himalayas. He instilled in them the belief that they could accomplish anything if they worked hard enough. When high school was over, he signed them up for a mountaineering class and it all clicked.

“Mountaineering was a completely new world. It opened our horizons and we knew who we wanted to be in life.” ~ Tashi Malik

Right away, the girls set their sights on Mt. Everest. They wanted to be the first female twins to make it to the top. Their mother was not on board however, and it took nearly 4 years to get her blessing.

“I thought my girls were dainty and delicate, but their mountaineering instructors assured me that they were made of steel.” ~ Anju Malik

With their Sherpa Mingma, who was just one year older, they set off on their summit climb to the top of Everest. Tragedy soon hit when on a particularly steep ice wall, Mingma clamped onto a rope that had become brittle and it snapped. The twins witnessed their friend fall 2,000 feet and disappear to screams of terror. The girls returned to base camp unsure whether they should continue or go home. It was their father who encouraged them to finish in honor of their friend, which they did.

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Since then, the girls have been blazing their path setting numerous world records:
• First female twins to scale Mt Everest (Climbed at 21 years of age)
• First siblings & twins to climb ‘Seven Summits’ (highest peaks in all continents)
• First siblings & twins to complete Adventurers Grand Slam & the Three Pole Challenge
• Youngest persons ever to complete Adventurers Grand Slam & the Three Pole Challenge
• First twins to reach South Pole on Skis
• First twins to reach North Pole on Skis

The Malik twins continue to challenge themselves on the mountain, but they are also passionate about making mountaineering a recognized sport in India which in turn could spark economic development in a region that is suffering. Through their NungshiTashi Foundation, they hope to promote empowerment for young girls through self-awareness, leadership and outdoor activities.

Pushing boundaries, reaching goals, and giving back – qualities I admire in female athletes!

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