The sister duo, with 9 Guinness World Record Holders for completing The Explorer’s Grand Slam and 7 times Limca Book of Record Holders for their climbing feats, has been rewarded several awards from not only the president of India but also Iceland. In September 2019, they were also recommended by the sports ministry for the Padma Shri Puraskar, India’s fourth-highest civilian award.
Today, Tashi and Nungshi are prepared to add yet another feather in their very illustrated cap. The girls are set to represent India in a women’s-only peak challenge to be held in in Switzerland. As a part of Switzerland Tourism’s 100% Women Peak Challenge, launched on 08 March 2021, the country has invited 250 women from across the globe to take up the exciting challenge of climbing some of the 4,000m (approx. 13,000ft) peaks in the Swiss Alps. The sisters, who got the initial call regarding this all-women challenge from Switzerland about four months ago, will travel to Switzerland next week for their maiden climb of the Swiss Alps.
“We’ve climbed the Himalayas many times but climbing the Swiss Alps will be a first and we are very excited for this opportunity. It had always been on our bucket list to climb the beautiful mountains of Swiss Alps. So when we got the initial call from Switzerland, we didn’t think twice before accepting it,” shares an excited Nungshi. “So for us, we are in it firstly because it is the Swiss Alps and then a women’s challenge.”
Also sharing about how mountaineering is usually associated with men, they tell us that to get a chance to encourage more women to take part in the sport is something they consider a win-win situation.
While elaborating on their training for the challenge, the sisters tell us that they couldn’t follow their regular workout sessions in the past few months owing to the coronavirus pandemic.
“However, we did our basic sessions at our home gym and followed the required diet and nutrition intake,” add the sisters, pointing out that diet and nutrition are as important for mountaineers as the workouts.
Empowerment lessons from the mountains
Hailing from rural Haryana, Tashi and Nungshi Malik were in their early 20s when they fell in love with the mountains. They had their first experience mountaineering in 2009, when they learned that their father, Col. Virender Singh Malik, had applied for them to be admitted to the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Dehradun. The sisters have never looked back since.
Interestingly, Tashi and Nungshi were the first female twins to summit Mt Everest in 2013. The Malik sisters are also the first siblings and twins to climb the Seven Summits and reach the North and South Poles to complete the Adventurers Grand Slam and Three Poles Challenge (which was to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents and travelling on foot to the North and South Poles). Naturally, Tashi and Nungshi Malik are India’s most renowned international adventurers and multi-Guinness world record holders, having won India’s highest adventure award, the prestigious ‘Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2015’.
“Initially, we were apprehensive about mountaineering, but after climbing various mountains for the past decade, climbing mountains has become our comfort zone. There have been many moments on our mountaineering journeys — some emotional after our peak summits, some sad of losing friends on the way. But even after climbing so many summits, the Mt Everest summit is one of our cherished memories,” says Nungshi.
Quite as intense as their thirst for adventures through mountaineering is their passion for promoting girl power and uplifting women. And promote “uplifting the Indian girl child” they do through their adventure activities. Recipients of the “Nari Shakti Puraskar”, India’s highest civilian honour for women recognising services towards the cause of women empowerment, which was awarded to them by the President of India in 2020, the sisters’ motto is “Gender Equality Now: Fight Female Foeticide”. Additionally, the duo is the brand ambassadors of Uttarakhand’s ‘Beti-Bachao’ (save the girl child) campaign.
Following up on their quest for a better world for the girl child, in 2015, the twins even founded the NungshiTashi Foundation and India’s first Outdoor Leadership School in 2015 at Dehradun. They aim to make India an ‘Outdoor Nation’ with the focus on empowering girls. As outdoor education draws upon the philosophy, theory and practices of experiential education and environmental education, the girls’ foundation and school initiate outdoor education programmes, through which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges and outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, canoeing, ropes courses and group games.
“One can learn so much from climbing mountains. It’s great for women who love to explore and have an eccentric streak in them to shut away the negativity around and live,” add the sisters in conclusion.
* 9 times Guinness World Record Holders for completing The Explorer’s Grand Slam
* 7 times Limca Book of Record Holders for their climbing feats
* “Nari Shakti Puraskar” Awarded by the President of India, 2020 – India’s highest civilian honour for women recognising services towards the cause of women empowerment
* “Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award” – awarded to them by the President of India in 2015, India’s highest adventure honour
* “Leif Erikson Young Explorers Award” presented by the President of Iceland, 2016
* Recommended by the sports ministry for Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian award in September 2019