Reaching the summit: Sam Sidiqi first Afghanistan-born mountaineer to top Denali

Sam Sidiqi was born in Afghanistan, has spent lots of time in Alaska, and now is the first...
Sam Sidiqi was born in Afghanistan, has spent lots of time in Alaska, and now is the first Afghanistan-born mountaineer to climb to the summit of Denali.
Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 2:09 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A year ago, a worldwide pandemic scuttled Sam Sidiqi’s plan to reach the top of Denali. This year, however, he actually made it to the mountain, but with the summit in sight, Sidiqi wasn’t sure if he was going to reach it.

“I had some doubts there at the end, I was feeling pretty good there along the way it was a good acclimatization schedule for the most part but there’s a really tough move from 14 camp to 17 camp where you go up the head wall and hike along the ridge and you gain a lot of altitude. After I did that I couldn’t eat, I could barely eat and that night and the next morning I just didn’t think I was going to go,” Sidiqi said. “But I had a little ibuprofen and my teammates were excited, and my teammates pushed for it and the summit felt great.”

Raised and educated in the United States, at Wharton, the University of Pennsylvania and MIT, Sidiqi was actually born in Afghanistan. For Sam, reaching the top of the mountain known as “the great one” was an individual accomplishment, that he hopes will serve his larger goal of raising awareness for his foundation the Afghan Peaks Charitable Trust.

RELATED: Afghanistan-born MIT grad raises money, awareness with Denali climb

“Our mission is to develop mountain sport, safety, and conservation in Afghanistan,” Sidiqi said. “I really just wanted to highlight that Afghanistan isn’t just about war, that we have these beautiful mountains where you can ski and you can climb and I am looking for support with that.”

With Denali now under his belt, the thrill-seeking mountaineer says he plans to turn his attention towards an even taller task, Afghanistan’s Noshaq Mountain, which has a peak elevation of more than 24,000 feet. If he’s able to reach the summit there, it will provide yet one more mountain top for Sam Sidiqi to shout out his positive message.

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