BY FARAH STACK, RECIPIENT OF THE 2021 SUMMIT SCHOLARSHIP
Climbing, summiting, and experiencing the exhilarating nature of Komo Kulshan (Mt Baker) with the women I met through AWExpeditions was truly, an experience of a life time. It was by far the most positive, supportive, and wonderful experience I have had in any outdoors environment—thanks to the inspiring, strong, and exquisite women I barely knew day 1 and whom all quickly became my fellow teammates and friends! I learned a few things over the days I spent on the mountain:
1. My body is capable of anything I set my mind to and if I believe it I can achieve it.
2. I belong. In a space that can feel so intimidating and where I am constantly questioning my skills and experiences or whether or not I am good enough or “tough” enough to be outside, I belong. People who look like me belong and so do many other underrepresented individuals that have been systemically excluded from outdoors spaces.
3. Acknowledge and understand the history of stolen lands we all live, travel, and recreate on. I was so lucky to share this experience climbing Komo Kulshan with my co-scholarship recipient Martell Hesketh, who encouraged our team to learn the stories of the mountain we were recreating and to reflect on that history.
4. If your legs start to wobble, take a deep breath!
5. Climbing with an all-women team across glaciers on a volcano is the coolest thing I have ever done—I cannot wait for many more adventures like this one!!!
I used to think that my goals of climbing mountains was silly, since what competitive swimmer retires from her swim career and goes summits mountains? But I know now after submitting Mt. Baker and being inspired by my AWEsome team that these same aspirations of mine, climbing mountains around the world, is just within my reach. My dad always told me, If I can dream it, I can achieve it. I’ve been dreaming all this time, I’m ready, and can’t wait for many more adventures about the clouds ahead! Inshallah.
Just another thought I would share related to Mount Baker:
The afternoon we arrived back in Seattle after climbing Mt. Baker, my mom texted me. She said she was proud of me, which I was surprised to see her text me because if she does send something like that, it’s academic-related. She usually tells me I should study more instead of hiking or worrying about where I want to camp next, so I really appreciated her for expressing to me a positive sentiment related to something I enjoy doing outside of school. She followed the text with, “Your grandfather would have been very proud of you too. He loved nature and found God in nature and would have tried to go with you on the mountain, or waited for you at the bottom!” This text made me cry a little. I did not know my grandfather, I was very young when he passed away, but many people in my family tell me we would have been best friends because of his love for science and nature. I did not know he enjoyed nature until the afternoon post-summit. It was really nice knowing this, and it made me more connected to him.
My grandfather loved showing the world to his wife and children (my grandmother and my mom and uncles) and road-tripping to National Parks across the country, camping under the stars and in the forests. In Islam, nature is considered a sign of God and those that look after trees or elements of the environment will be gifted by God. I have always found nature and moments of being in it to be spiritual, and it makes me really happy that my grandfather felt the same way.
I know I have mentioned how many times I am grateful for this experience with AWE and climbing Mt. Baker, it truly has just changed my life forever but if it were not for this experience, I don’t know if my mom would have ever shared this information about my grandfather. It is really hard for her to talk about him, and I didn’t even know his love for nature or that he traveled around the world until now! I feel closer to him because of it. I am so appreciative of the support and encouragement from everyone related to AWE and the sponsors of the Summit Scholarship. My wish is for many other girls and women to be able to experience such a positive and incredible group of women and to realize their full potential and strength without the weight of the world or patriarchy on their shoulders.