Switzerland hosted a never-before-seen, extraordinary feat that brought together 82 women of influence from across 25 countries to add a new female chapter to the history of what is still an overwhelmingly male-dominated sport! The ladies came together and successfully created a new world record for – ‘The Longest Women’s Rope Team’ on the 4164 m high mountain Breithorn, in Switzerland on Friday, 17th June 2022. The lineup of these influential women for this mega event included three dynamic Indian women – Aanchal Thakur, a renowned Alpine Skier; Shibani Gharat, a fitness enthusiast and seasoned marathon runner; and Charmi Dedhia from Mumbai!
The 100% all-women rope team also comprised of female journalists and women of influence from across the globe like Cindy Sirinya Bishop, the Thai UN Women Ambassador for Asia; the Pacific, Swedish-Norwegian actress and UNICEF Ambassador Eva Röse; musician and Miss France 2019 Vaimalama Chaves; Swiss historian Marie-France Hendrikx, Iranian mountaineer Mina Ghorbani and Korean actress Lee Si-young.
The activity was a part of the 100% Women initiative launched by Switzerland Tourism in 2021 with the aim to make women more visible in adventurous mountain and outdoor sports and to promote tourism offerings that are specifically geared towards fulfilling the outdoor adventure needs of women in the beautiful and diverse country. According to the partner organization, the Swiss Mountain Guides Association, and renowned experts in women’s mountaineering, the mobilization of such a large, all-women’s rope team is a first of its kind!
“I am thankful to Switzerland for inviting me and my fellow Indians to represent our country and join this amazing group of women for this challenge! It was an overall amazing experience- the whole atmosphere up at the summit was so full of positive energy and enthusiasm. I’m no stranger to the Swiss Alps as a skier, but climbing onto the summit with this inspiringly diverse group of women was one of the most unique experiences of my life. I am proud of the fact that I was a small part of this amazing whole that created history with this world record. I would like to give a big thumbs up to Switzerland for promoting this 100% Women initiative, I hope this will inspire many other women, both now and in the future to get out of their comfort zone and explore the great outdoors!” said Aanchal Thakur after the climb.
In order to assemble this diverse women’s rope team- out of the 82 spots- 10 were kept open to all! Any woman from across the world- with the required basic level of fitness for the ascent could apply online in advance for one of ten places. Charmi Dedhia from Mumbai was one of the winners of this contest and got to be a part of this record climb!
Charmi said, “I am still not over the joy and excitement I felt at the summit- as I realized not only did, I finish my first mountain climb on a 4000m peak in the Swiss Alps- but we as an all-women’s group had just created history! I hope this initiative reaches many women across the globe, and especially in India- so that it inspires them to get out there and start exploring the great outdoors, especially the mountains…. because mountains only inspire, they don’t discriminate!”
Shibani Gharat, another key part of the Indian contingent, added, “It was heartening to see Switzerland encourage women from all walks of life to join this challenge with their contest! I would not have missed this challenge for the world! My experience participating in this all-women adventure was nothing short of amazing! The visuals from the top of the mountain just took my breath away! Being a part of this new chapter in the history of mountaineering – makes me feel proud of myself as well as our entire group!”