This Pakistani is the first woman in the world to have cycled on Biafo glacier

Published: September 9, 2016
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PHOTO: Samar Khan

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Samar Khan is the first woman in the world to have cycled on the 4,500-metre-high Biafo glacier in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Khan, a master’s in physics, enjoys  paragliding, trekking, and mountain climbing in addition to cycling, which she has a penchant for.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

In an interview with The Express Tribune, the 26-year-old from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa shares her journey to Biafo, her love for cycling and future plans.

Khan made the trip in July, 2016. Due to paucity of resources, she couldn’t hire a company for her trip. Undeterred, Khan contacted professional mountain climber Asghar Hussain for her journey.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Her month-long trip began on July, 24 when she left for Skardu. It took Khan 18 days and a dozen stops to reach Biafo.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

“The biggest challenge on a route like this is the elevation,” she said when asked about what she was most concerned about before the trip. Khan trained for six months before setting out for Biafo; she trekked on the weekends, routinely visited the gym and also followed a strict diet plan.

Khan developed an interest in cycling while at university. Her first major ride was from Islamabad to Khunjerab Pass last year. Khan also cycled from Minar-i-Pakistan to Wagah border in Lahore, earlier this year along with other cyclists.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Speaking of her love for cycling, Khan said it was easier to take up than other sports. “You don’t need a trainer, you don’t need very expensive equipment and you can ride in the rain or snow,” she said. “It’s pleasant, healthy and good for the environment,” Khan added.

Shedding light on public interest in the sport, Khan said people were taking  keen interest in cycling. “Many bikers joined me during my rides, some from Abottabad and from Babusar,” she said.  “People always get in touch; asking me how they can join a biking tour,” Khan added.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Khan plans to join the national team and has been looking forward to more challenging tours around the country. She also plans to return to Biafo to visit places she missed earlier. Khan said she wanted people to see how stunning Pakistan was.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Grateful for the support of her mother and siblings, Khan said poor mobile network coverage was the only drawback when it came to cycling in the Northern Areas. She expressed hope of coverage improving in G-B, saying that make it easier for her to remain in touch with her family.

Encouraging others who wish to take up cycling, Khan said the sport was not as unsafe as commonly perceived. Instead of being dissuaded by someone, “experience it yourself” she counselled to conclude.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Mussa
    Sep 9, 2016 - 4:50PM

    Well done, Samar Khan. Very proud of your achievement. Keep it up. Especially when women take up these challenges it makes Pakistan looks better. Recommend

  • Sasha Riaz
    Sep 9, 2016 - 6:31PM

    She’s proof that Pakistani women can travel on their own undertake physical challenges and achieve their ambitions. Pakistani men treat your womenfolk with respect and make some room. She’s from KPK where Pathan women mostly stay indoors and if they do venture outside they have to be wrapped up from head to toe which is so cumbersome and stifling in the hot climate
    Congratulations Samar Khan ! Well done for not giving up!
    Women and girls should be able to feel the fresh breeze on their face and in their hair.
    Moreover as Muslims we should be healthy and fit and that can only happen properly if women get out and about and explore the natural environment which God has made for everybody to enjoy , both men and women.Recommend

  • Hasan Yosufzai
    Sep 9, 2016 - 6:43PM

    @Sasha Riaz Kindly keep in mind that she is a Pushtoon. We are born to be wild and great. Our women are like us. No ethnicity anywhere in Pakistan can match us. We are physically and mentally better than the rest. So kindly say Pushtoon women rather than Pakistani women while appreciating. A woman from Punjab or Interior Sindh cannot even dream to do feats like that.Recommend

  • Osman Khalid
    Sep 9, 2016 - 8:28PM

    @Hasan Yosufzai: You possess a typical Pushtoon mentality… Pakistan should be the first.Recommend

  • Aamir - Toronto
    Sep 9, 2016 - 9:37PM

    @ Hasan Yosufzai……She is Pakistani first and then a Pushtoon…….please don’t be stereotype, there are other Pakistani women (i.e. Sana, Mir, Naseem Hameed,Samina Baig, Hajra Khan, Maria Toorpakway Wazir, Twinkle Sohail, Ifrah Wali, Amina Wali, Palwasha Bashir, Rubab Raza, Sadia Sadaf, etc.) who are equally famous in their respective fields !!!! Recommend

  • Natalya Kamal
    Sep 9, 2016 - 11:28PM

    This is not an authentic claim. Please investigate further. Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Sep 10, 2016 - 1:36AM

    Samar Khan, Malala Yousafzai, Sana Mir and girls in other sports should be the identity of a living Pakistani woman. They are beautiful, fit and achieve great things that we are all proud of. Well done Samar and success for the future. Recommend

  • Mehmood Ali
    Sep 10, 2016 - 8:38AM

    Dear Samar, a great job done MashaAllah. Why don’t u come to Karachi and join us in teaching the young naval sailors about electronics. As u have done masters in physics so teaching basic electronics would not be a problem for you. We have a vaccancy in grade 18 civilian instructor and you can apply for that. Regards Cdr Mehmood AliRecommend

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