Last year, Yasmin Gahtani became the first certified Saudi Arabian climbing wall instructor. This year, the single mother of two has a new goal in mind: the Tokyo 2020 Games. She hopes to not only raise the Saudi Arabian flag at the games, but to also inspire others from the Kingdom to partake in the sport.
“This will make me proud that I was somehow involved in making them rock climbers, especially my own twin sons.”
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Surprisingly, Gahtani has not always been an avid rock climber. According to Saudi Gazette, she started just five years ago, conquering her fear of heights and taking on the elevating experience of rock and mountain climbing.
“I wanted to start something new in my life, I explored various extreme sports. But a chance assist from a friend, a rock climber — who took me to Briman area in Jeddah, changed my life completely,” explained Gahtani.
Gahtani then pursued her dream of becoming a rock-climbing instructor, taking a Climbing Wall instructor course in Chicago last year through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA).
“After seeing how many Saudis were getting more and more curious about the sport that I was practicing, I started thinking about becoming a certified rock climbing instructor, to help greenhorns climb safely,” she said.
According to Arab News, Gahtani has so far faced no negative response in Saudi Arabia regarding her passion and work as a rock climber, saying, “In fact, people are very happy for me, and proud that I found something I have passion for. Saudis are my biggest fans and they really show that to me. I am very lucky and grateful to them.”
Gahtani believes that Saudi Arabia provides beautiful, world-class climbing locations, and looks forward to seeing more efforts at bringing visitors into the Kingdom to experience its natural beauty.
“We have so many attractive places in Abha, Al-Ula, and Al-Baha, but we need more work to create more routes on these naturally perfect climbing walls to pave the way for people to climb them. Funded projects need to be considered to make it happen.”