Jordanian becomes first Arab to scale 8th highest summit, Mt Manaslu

Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest. (Screengrab)
Updated 29 October 2018
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Jordanian becomes first Arab to scale 8th highest summit, Mt Manaslu

  • Standing at 8,156 meters above sea level, Manaslu brought on plenty of challenges for the 28-year old climber
  • Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest

DUBAI: Jordanian climber Dolores Al-Shelleh is the first-ever Arab to scale Nepal’s Mount Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain in the world.

Standing at 8,156 meters above sea level, Manaslu brought on plenty of challenges for the 28-year old climber.

Al-Shelleh, who is also a brand ambassador for the Middle East’s first fully sustainable community, The Sustainable City, is preparing to scale the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest.

The climber sat down with Arab News to talk about her endeavors. 

  • How did this climb help in the preparation for Everest?

It was definitely an experience to learn from! This mountain is known for its notorious avalanches and a 15% chance of fatality amongst climbers. I faced many challenges during this climb particularly; crevasses, ice falls, snow storms and this was the reality of how Everest is going to be like. Staying for 40 days on the mountain, my team members became like family, we ate food we weren’t used to, living on the bare minimum, and keeping up with the constant rotations to acclimatize before the summit. Such long demanding climbs need a lot of mental strength - on the summit day it took 11 hours to reach the top with subzero temperatures challenging us and I also decided to go down on the same day of the summit straight to base camp, which means climbing down using repelling most of the time on steep glacier and ice fall areas, and doing so after such long days makes everything triple the difficulty and risky.

  • What was the main obstacle you faced on this climb?

I had quite a couple; in the beginning the muddy and rainy long days going through the steep parts of the forests and villages in Nepal, also the high altitude which means low oxygen levels which makes healing from injuries and the immune system weak, feeling exhausted from walking for hours every day and sometimes we had to walk starting 3am which means very few hours of sleep, and I got my ankle injured at the very start of the climb - this proved quite a difficult injury during the journey. There were also lot of steep routes and bridge crossing of crevasses in the ice fall area. The freezing cold evenings on higher camps made moving around difficult, even the heat with the snow got us all sun burnt no matter how much you try to avoid that, We also had an earth quake during one of the nights on base camp, it wasn’t a severe one but it had an impact. 

  • How did you prepare for this climb?

Physically I’m pretty vigorous at the gym - I do most of my workouts at low oxygen chambers to train my body to handle the altitudes. I also climbed mount Elbrus a month before I went to Mount Manalsu to keep my body acclimatized. Mentally I was ready for this new adventure and I knew I had to be determined to succeed and think positively as much as I could.

  • What does this rank in terms of difficulty climbing among all your climbs?

It’s the most difficult climb so far not only because of its height but also because of the advanced level of technical climbing needed to make the climb. The environmental changes during our climbs were frequent and so we had a number of rotations to help us acclimatize. 

  • What has the role as the brand ambassador of The Sustainable City played in this climb? And the next one?

I am being supported by a true believer of women capabilities, being the brand ambassador of TSC - I am raising awareness for three of the UN Sustainable Development goals: Gender Equality, Climate Action and Sustainable Cities and Communities. As I continue my journey I will always highlight the difficulties our Earth is facing due to the climate change affects. I think it is very important for people to understand the importance of our climate’s wellbeing and it’s effects on our lives.


Study finds robust polar bear population in sea near Alaska

In this undated photo provided by Eric Regehr, polar bears are seen on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Circle. (AP)
Updated 9 min 24 sec ago
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Study finds robust polar bear population in sea near Alaska

  • Polar bears are classified as marine mammals because they spend most of their lives on sea ice

ANCHORAGE, Alaska: The first formal count of polar bears in waters between the United States and Russia indicates they’re doing better than some of their cousins elsewhere.
Polar bears are listed as a threatened species because of diminished sea ice due to climate change. But university and federal researchers estimate a robust and abundant population of nearly 3,000 animals in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast, according to a study published Wednesday in Scientific Reports.
“It the near-term, it’s absolutely good news,” said lead author Eric Regehr, who began the project more than a decade ago as a US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and last year joined the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center.
In the longer term, it doesn’t mean the Chukchi Sea bear population will not be affected.
“Polar bears need ice to hunt seals, and the ice is projected to decline until the underlying problem of climate change is addressed,” Regehr said.
The study shows there is variation around the world in the effects of sea ice loss on polar bears, he said Thursday.
“Some subpopulations are already declining while others are still doing OK,” he said.
Polar bears are classified as marine mammals because they spend most of their lives on sea ice. Less sea ice means less productive time to hunt ice seals, more time on shore and longer, energy-sapping swims.
The world’s polar bears are divided into 19 subpopulations, including two in US waters. Besides Chukchi bears, the United States shares the southern Beaufort Sea population with Canada.
Stress in southern Beaufort bears from a loss of sea ice was partly why the United States in 2008 declared polar bears a threatened species.
Fewer cubs were surviving into their second year and adult males weighed less and had smaller skulls, the US Geological Survey found. Researcher Steven Amstrup at the time said the trends were consistent with changes in nutritional status likely associated with declines in sea ice.
A more recent study by USGS research Karyn Rode found that Chukchi bears spend more time on shore and have almost 30 fewer days to hunt seals on ice than 20 years ago, Regehr said. However, that doesn’t appear to have affected the population, he said.
Polar bears have an amazing ability to build fat reserves, Regehr said, and the Chukchi’s abundant seal population apparently allows bears to compensate for the loss of hunting time. The difference with the southern Beaufort was obvious from an airplane, he said.
“It’s visually striking to me, the difference, having worked in both places,” Regehr said.
When ice melts, many Chukchi bears rest on Russia’s Wrangell Island, where they occasionally can find a whale or walrus carcass.
The Chukchi population study used data collected by sampling about 60 polar bears between 2008 and 2016. Some were fitted with GPS transmitters. The data was used in a model designed to estimate population size for highly mobile large carnivores.
Blaine Griffen, an associate professor of biology at Brigham Young University, said the study was good news.
“It’s nice to see that there’s at least one population that’s doing better than others,” he said.
The difference may be geography, he said. The Chukchi Sea has a more extensive continental shelf area with primary productivity that enables the food chain to support seals.
The research agrees with past studies that suggested Chukchi bears would do better than bears elsewhere, Griffen said.