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with Stefan Nestler

If the headscarf simply annoys

Nasim Eshqi

Donald Trump stands between her and El Capitan. Nasim Eshqi would also like to climb the legendary granite walls in the Yosemite National Park, but the US president has imposed, as is known, an entry ban for Iranians. The 35-year-old from Tehran takes it with humor. “I mean, he is unlucky if I am not there,“ Nasim says, laughing. The female climber does not correspond to the Western cliché of an Iranian woman at all: off-the-shoulder shirt, sunglasses, no headscarf. And she says what she thinks. “The traditional culture in Iran doesn’t accept me or other girls who are the same style like me as real women they want to marry or stay with,” says Nasim. “But it was okay for me from the beginning. I have friends from all over the world who are supporting me mentally.”

Simply continued

The female climber is used to deal with rejection. Even her open-minded parents, a university professor and a teacher, had a hard time to come to terms with the ambitions of her daughter, who first achieved successes as a kickboxer and then, 14 years ago, discovered her passion for mountaineering and climbing. “You go out of the city and come back late, so your parents say: ‘Where have you been?’ They were afraid of dangers happening, or police or bad people. But I just kept doing this. They still don’t like what I do, but I cannot change it.”

Nasim Eshqi: I have an open family but they don’t like what I do

Equality on the rock

Nasim Eshqi in action on the crag Polekhab near Tehran (Route “Iran-Swiss”, 8a+)

Eshqi consistently cuts her own way, and it leads across rock. “The most important thing I feel when I climb anywhere in the world is feeling equal,” Nasim describes her motivation. “In climbing, we all have the same rules. It’s gravity. It doesn’t care from where we are, which gender or how much money we have. It’s just a way, and it’s only us and what we can do.”

Nasim Eshqi: Climbing makes me feeling equal

Nasim climbs routes up to the tenth degree. She spends about half of the year in her home country, where she works as a climbing trainer. But she can not make her living on it. The other months, Nasim is staying abroad, where she keeps her head above water by giving lectures. “Whatever I earn I spend. Sometimes I borrow money to pay my flight tickets.”

With luck and will

Traveling to countries like Georgia, Armenia or Turkey is no problem for her, says Eshqi. But for European states, USA or the largest part of Africa, she needs invitations from there. However, these invitations are not a guarantee that she is later really allowed to enter the countries. With a bit of pride, Nasim points out that she has already climbed in more countries than many others from states without travel restrictions: “If I am lucky and I really want it, I think it will really happen.” Thus the Iranian already climbed on rocks in the Elbsandstone Mountains in eastern Germany, the Italian Dolomites, the Swiss Rätikon or the mountains around Chamonix.

More than 70 new routes

Climbing in Iran (here on Alamkooh mountain )

In these countries, there are no strict clothing regulations like in Iran. In her home country, Nasim is obliged to wear a headscarf under the climbing helmet and to keep her arms covered. “I can live with it. It’s not as hard as for example getting no visas. I am focused on climbing and want to share my passion with many other people.” Eshqi has already opened more than 70 new routes in several countries. Just now the climbing community in her home country is very small. “The most climbers in Iran are more like picnic climbers. They simply want to be outside and use the good weather. There a not more than ten climbers in the whole country who are really pushing their limits,” says  Nasim.

Too impatient for expeditions

High altitude mountaineering is in Iran much more popular than climbing. But the 35-year-old does not see herself in this tradition. “I would love to climb K 2, everyone likes to, but I don’t have enough patience to do enough training for such a long expedition. So I found out, it’s not my way, “ says Eshqi. “I would do all this effort for walking in the Himalayas if there is a wall at the end which I want to climb. This is more in my path than only an expedition up to 8000 or 7000 meters.”

Nasim Eshqi: Not patient enough for expeditions

From enemies to fans

Convincing with performance (Route “Man o to”, 7c+, on Baraghan)

Nasim Eshqi sees signs that the Iranian society is opening up more and more – thanks to Internet use and increased traveling. The hostility, which she was often confronted with in the beginning, has decreased, says the climber, adding that reports of western media about her have played their part in this development: “When people in Iran see that the Europeans have this kind of respect for a girl who does a lot of effort on her way, they start to think: ‘Oh, she’s good. If the Europeans respect her, then we respect her too.’ So at the end all my enemies are my fans now, which I think is a success for me.” Maybe one day, Donald Trump will ask Nasim Eshqi for an autograph – after he has seen her climbing El Capitan.

Nasim Eshqi: Enemies turning into fans


27. June 2017 | 15:59