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March 2023: Ascend News

International Women’s Day: March 8

International Women’s Day is March 8, 2023, a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women, raising awareness against bias and, crucially, taking action for equality every day. This year we celebrate the women who have inspired us. You’re invited to follow us on social media this week and next as we celebrate exceptional women.

Many of you, through your gifts, have helped develop some very exceptional women and we hope you’ll continue to be a part of this movement by making your financial investment in Ascend’s participants today. Ascend exists to lift women up by strengthening their skills, uncovering their courage, and supporting one-another to reach beyond the barriers women face daily. You make it possible for the women in Pakistan and Afghanistan to push their own limits and discover how strong they really are through your financial support.

This April, Ascend will kick off our training program in Skardu, Pakistan with the launch of the training of the first 10-15 instructor participants. They will become the leaders delivering the Ascend program to girls across the Skardu, Pakistan.

Ascend has also been working to reestablish a program in Afghanistan. Our Country Director has cleared Ascend’s local registration, and we are meeting with local organizations to determine what and how we can offer our unique program to girls in Afghanistan. While it is clear we cannot currently teach the climbing and mountaineering portion of the program, we have made inroads to be able to facilitate the service, health, and wellness aspects of our program.

There are so many exciting things happening every day and your support continues to make these grand steps toward the future possible. Thank you!

Uphill Athlete trains Ascend Ambassador Naila Kiani

Who needs weights when you have a toddler? Kiani training with (and inspiring) her daughters.

Beginning in early 2023, Ascend brought together long-time supporter Uphill Athlete, under the ownership of Steve House, and Ascend Ambassador and Pakistani mountain climber Naila Kiani. Kiani, who summited K2 in 2022 and two other 8,000 meter peaks prior, is preparing to summit her next 8,000 meter in 2023.

Knowing the amount of physical and mental training it takes to climb mountains, Ascend introduced Kiani to Uphill Athlete who offered to use their specialized training to prepare Kiani for her next expedition. Uphill Athlete, founded in 2016 as the prologue to House’s successful climbing career, provides training plans, training groups, and one on one coaching to educate and inspire all mountain athletes.

Kiani says, “Before starting this training, I had been working with an amazing personal trainer but never bothered to learn the science and logic behind the exercises I was doing. I found myself unprepared and winging it on my first climb two years ago. But Uphill Athlete is completely transforming my approach to mountaineering training.”

Ascend’s program is built on equipping women with the knowledge and skills to safely participate in sports like climbing and mountaineering, while developing self-awareness and leadership skills. Having a disciplined, high-quality training based on standards gives women the ability to safely participate in sport for a lifetime. With Kiani as Ascend Ambassador for the excited young women in Pakistan, we felt it was important she receive the same training to help her achieve her personal goals.

House’s connection to Ascend came through female mountain guides he knew who had been doing work on behalf of Ascend years ago. Ascend works in a “great, innovative, organized way” House says. “Teaching women to have confidence in themselves, to believe in their own judgements, and to believe in their own agency and power over their decisions and lives” is what Ascend does on a fundamental level. It allows women to open doors throughout their lifetimes.

We are all excited to witness Kiani’s mountaineering developments as well as the program launch in Pakistan. Ascend is grateful to Steve House and UpHill Athlete for their generosity in supporting Kiani and their unwavering commitment to Ascend and the young women we support.

In The News

Ascend was featured in not one, but TWO podcasts in the last few months.

Several of our Alumnae have had the opportunity to share their stories with media outlets.

Read up on how they are getting on in their new homes.

Alumnae in Canada are Gifted Climbing Gym Memberships

A HUGE thank you to the Calgary Climbing Centre, Rocky Mountain in Calgary (; Basecamp Climbing in Toronto ( ; and Project Climbing Centre in Abbotsford ( These climbing gyms went above and beyond and gifted seven of our Ascend Alumnae in Canada memberships to their climbing gyms. These alumnae wrote proposals to Ascend’s Alumnae Association asking Ascend to help cover some of the costs to go climbing.

Ascend called each of the climbing gyms to inquire about memberships and the generosity of these gyms astounded us! Each gym gifted either full or partial membership to multiple of our Ascend Alumnae (over $2,600 in climbing fees), giving these young women the opportunity to fill their buckets climbing and to connect to a community of like-minded individuals from which we hope many friendships and adventures will come.

Alumnae Updates

Recently Sakina Ganji from Ireland traveled to Holland for a two week internship with her school, Ballsbridge College.

Roya Eghbali from Windsor, Canada is currently taking computer classes. Habiba Kamal and her sister, both living in Denmark, went climbing. Aziza, Shakeeba and Roquia from Ireland got together for a hike.

Several alumnae in Canada were invited to go skiing and snowboarding for the first time. The outing came about when Ascend made introductions between local alumnae and the adventure group Girls on Ice. The group generously offered to take the alumnae skiing and provided them with lessons, gear and transportation. The Alumnae Association not only helps our alumna get back to climbing, but we are also ready to help make introductions locally to help them become engaged with people and organizations in their new homes.

A group of Alumnae in Dublin, Ireland took advantage of a beautiful day to walk on Dalkey and Killiney Hill.

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