Bouchra Baibanou is the first Moroccan woman mountaineer to summit the seven highest mountain peaks on every continent. In this inspiring TEDx talk, Bouchra is not only sharing her outstanding achievements, but she is inviting all of us to dare to dream, and dream big.
Below is the full text of Bouchra’s talk titled “What Did Mountains Teach Me” at TEDxCasablanca conference. This event occurred on December 1, 2018.
Bouchra Baibanou – TRANSCRIPT
Tomorrow, I will be going to Antarctica to achieve my dream.
Do you know where Antarctica is? It’s the seventh continent, located in the South Pole. It’s the coldest continent in the world; the temperature there reached -144 °F. And the highest recorded wind velocity there, exceeds 186 mi/h.
It is a frozen continent. No one lives there except for scientists who go there to do scientific research, and adventurers who want to achieve special challenges. Like what I’m going to do tomorrow.
I’ll climb the highest summit there, the Vinson Massif, which is the last summit left in my Seven Summits Project. A challenge to climb the highest summit in each continent. By climbing this summit, I’ll achieve my goal of completing the Seven Summits and I’ll be the first Moroccan doing that, hopefully.
I’m scared from this journey. But I’m also excited. I’m scared because we always fear the unknown, because it always pushes us out of our comfort zone. And excited because I want to know this new world, and to explore it. These are the reasons that make me energetic and enthusiastic.
I still remember 2011, when I finished climbing a group of Moroccan summits. I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, the highest summit in Africa, which is about 19,000 ft. And there, I knew about the seven summits project.
I knew that it’ll be hard and the Everest summit will be in this project. Also, it’ll be expensive. Although of that I dared to dream, and said: “Why not? I’ll try and see where I’ll reach.”
Well, I started learning how to climb mountains in Mont Blanc. So I started this project and there, I became confident. Those mountains were just like a great school that taught me many lessons.
In Kilimanjaro I learned to dare and dream. In Elbrus, Europe, I learned how to be patient. I learned that there is no failure when I went to Aconcagua, in South America. At first, I didn’t succeed but I didn’t give up, worked hard and then returned, and I did it.
In Denali, the highest summit in North America, I learned to challenge myself. I learned to face the unknown, when I visited Puncak Jaya tribes to climb Carstensz summit in Oceania. I don’t deny that in some points I was almost to lose my confidence. I was almost to give up my dream, I cried a lot.
But with patience, will, and insistence, I continued. There were financial challenges also, since I had to find someone to invest in me, and it was really very hard thing. This taught me how to market my idea. I learned how to find financiers and how to convince them.
Of course, no one can succeed by herself only. Always there was many people who helped and supported me, till I succeed. My family, my main supporter. My husband supported me and accompanied me to Kilimanjaro and the base camp in Everest. My family helped me also. I was leaving my daughter with them and I’m assured on her.
For sure, my daughter was unsatisfied as I traveled and left her alone. In the beginning, she cried, and that affected me, she was my weakest point. I felt that I was a selfish person by leaving her alone for a long period.
But to succeed we’ve to make some sacrifices. When returned, I’ve compensated her with love and tenderness. And now she is proud of her mother, actually her mother is her model.
Everest was one of the summits I wasn’t focusing on it itself, since I was progressing step by step. I considered every summit a practice for Everest. When I felt that I was close from climbing it, I began preparing hardly. I did some practices in Himalaya, then I climbed summits higher than 23,000 ft.
I went to the Alps, Scotland and Spain. I did also intensive preparations; I exercised 3 to 4 hours daily. Physical strength isn’t the only matter, the mental strength is also important. I was meditating, doing yoga and improving myself. I knew that climbing Everest was really hard and some people died trying to climb it.
But that didn’t scare me. Because we die when we’ve to die. So we need to live our lives to the fullest. Everest journey took two months, April and May, 2017. The first month was to adapt, since we were climbing ascending and descending till our body adapt with heights, and to the lack of oxygen and pressure.
At first, when I was crossing Khumbu Glacier slope, which is one of the most dangerous slopes, I was so scared. Then, I used to do that as I crossed it many times. Also I used to hear the sound of the avalanches, run and leave my tent to watch them. It’s really strange how we could adapt with the difficulties. To do that we’ve only to be brave and strong enough to face them.
By doing that, we’ll discover how many resources we actually have, how we can pass our own limits, and the society limits as well.
When I was there, I was trying to live the moment. I was trying to enjoy the wonderful natural scenes. There, I felt really grateful. The hard conditions push us to appreciate the value of what we always have, like water, food, and oxygen.