At 24,580 feet above sea level, Noshaq is the tallest peak in Afghanistan. In August, 2018, it was climbed for the first time by an Afghan woman, Hanifa Yousoufi. The mountain had been closed to climbers for decades because of civil wars and Taliban rule until 2009 when bold trekkers once again looked to the summit. Yousoufi climbed with a group organized by Ascend Athletics, a nonprofit group that puts together women-focused climbs in the war-torn but beautiful country. Nearby Taliban attacks nearly ended this trip before it began as the area surrounding an airstrip near the group’s planned Noshaq basecamp was attacked by Taliban fighters. Trip leaders also dealt with reports of Taliban attacks downing Afghan army helicopters in the area. They flew to a different airstrip then drove and drove and drove to Noshaq where they resumed their climb. This is their story.

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