Our Covent Garden team member Shirin Shabestari is one extraordinary lady...
A Mum with two boys (aged 7 and 3) Shirin Shabestari used to be an English teacher, but has always had a passion for the mountains. She started trekking with her Dad in Iran (where she's originally from), aged just five, and two years ago Shirin made an ascent of Iran's highest peak and got a lot more serious about climbing.
'I started rock climbing, joined the Alpine Club (as an aspirant member), and spent every opportunity I had to read about mountaineering or go out and do some climbing/mountaineering. Eventually I decided not to go back to teaching.'
Instead Shirin plans to set up her own trekking company, offering treks and climbs in Iran. "Since last year when we got a more liberal president, Iran is opening up to foreign tourism and there is so much potential out there. I am focusing on Iran's highest peak, Damavand (5671m) to begin with. It is a trekking peak as high as Kilimanjaro, a beautiful volcano only 2 hours away from Tehran."
Before she sets up the website and officially starts the company, Shirin will be taking a group of friends this August to do a test trip. "Basically I want to get an idea of what it is like organizing a trip to Iran", says Shirin. "Already through the early stages of planning I have come across a lot of unpredictable hurdles, from visas to the paperwork for having a British or Canadian member on my team. But it is all a learning curve and so far all is going well and according to plan. There has been a lot of interest and curiosity about this trip. BMC has approached one of the members on my team to potentially write an article about the trip for the summit magazine. Also John Gupta from the CDG expeditions is planning to join me in Iran to look for possibilities of working together on a future expedition for unclimbed peaks. I am very excited about the whole thing!"
Yet before Shirin embarks on the challenge of a new business she has taken on another big challenge this summer (well, 5 different challenges really).
Shirin is undertaking a challenge every month to raise funds for Save the Children. "I have just come back after finishing the first of my 5 challenges which was UK's National Three Peaks (with Jon Gupta of JCG expeditions )."
"In three weeks time I will be climbing Mont Blanc via Cosmique route. In August I will be climbing Damavand as part of the expedition I am organizing. In September (on my birthday!) I am running the Sure Run to the Beat 10K and in October I will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon."
Having two young boys and no family in the UK to support and help when she is training and organizing her trips is not easy but Shirin is determined to give 110% in everything she does.
We'll be keeping you up-to-date on Shirin's progress and you can sponsor here: www.justgiving.com/Shirin-Shabestari1
You can also donate by texting SAAJ73 £5 to 70070