Antonina Samoilova, Ukrainian mountaineer sets 2 records in 1 day

Antonina Samoilova, a Ukrainian mountaineer, made history by being the first Ukrainian woman to conquer two eight-thousanders in a single day. She started her journey at dawn on May 22nd by ascending Everest, and by 06:00 the following day, she also successfully summited Lhotse. Additionally, Antonina achieved another milestone by becoming the first Ukrainian woman to reach the top of Everest three times. Her motivation for climbing the world’s highest peak was to show support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. During her expedition, she carried a photo of a generous donor who contributed to the Ukrainian Hospitallers volunteer medical battalion. The winner of the drawing for the photo was chosen randomly, allowing multiple parties to participate. Antonina also proudly carried the Ukrainian flag to the summit of Everest in 2022, displaying it with the message “Stand with Ukraine.” In 2023, she captured a groundbreaking video, featuring the world’s first drone footage on the peak of Everest with the Ukrainian flag waving proudly. This video quickly went viral, drawing attention from both Ukrainian and international media outlets, and served as a poignant reminder of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. When Antonina reached the summit of Everest alongside other climbers, she carried the Ukrainian flag on her backpack as a symbol of her dedication to her country. Prior to her ascent to the summit of the 8,849-meter mountain, the 33-year-old climber shared a message on her Instagram, emphasizing that her climb was a way to remind the world of Ukraine’s resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Out of 317 foreign climbers, Antonina was the sole Ukrainian permitted by the Nepalese government to embark on the Everest expedition.

Tribute to Alexander Gryanik

While on the summit of Everest, Antonina Samoilova paid tribute and posed holding the photo of a Ukrainian hero and fallen soldier.

Azov combatant Alexander Gryanik lost his life in Mariupol. Previously known for his defence of Kyiv and Bucha at the start of the conflict, he later decided to join the troops in Mariupol when the city was besieged. Journeying by helicopter to assist the encircled military, Gryanik’s route was compromised by the enemy forces, resulting in the helicopter being seized. Despite this setback, Alexander managed to find his way to Azovstal. Throughout his courageous actions, the fighter remained humble, stating, “I do not view myself as a hero. I simply did what I believed was right.”

Antonina Samoilova with Alexander Gryanik, Ukrainian soldier

In her Instagram post, she writes,

Me and Ukrainian warrior on the top of the world. Olexandr Gryanyk.
His dream was to climb Everest, to feel higher than anything on Earth.
But Alex died defending his country at the age of 28.

… We were on the top of the world on chilly May morning, he was smiling from the photo. His dream came true. Posthumously.

No ban on Russian climbers

The majority of Ukrainian climbers have put their plans for the climbing season in the Himalayas on hold due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, the number of Russian climbers seeking to reach the summit remains consistent with last year’s figures, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. In 2021, the government issued a record 408 climbing permits in the region. Leading up to the current climbing season in Nepal, there has been a growing outcry to ban Russian climbers, similar to actions taken in other sports. However, the government in Kathmandu has not yet addressed this call. Nepal, unlike its neighboring countries India and Pakistan, supported a UN resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Attention guaranteed

It is not uncommon to see Everest climbs used as a means to convey political or social messages. Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, captures the attention of people and remains ingrained in their minds. Climbing the mountain successfully is no longer an exclusive endeavour, with approximately 10,000 ascents since the first climb by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Only 2% of these climbs were accomplished without the use of bottled oxygen. The support of Sherpas, essential for nearly all climbers to surpass the 5,300 meter high base camp, is often overlooked in public perception.

History for Black Climbers

Individuals who successfully summit Mount Everest often attract attention. This holds true for not only Samoilova but also for the eleven members of the groundbreaking “Full Circle Everest” team, which is comprised solely of Black climbers. Reports indicate that eight team members reached the summit on May 12, utilizing bottled oxygen. The expedition garnered significant media coverage prior to their journey due to the team’s important message. The group stated, “This expedition aims to demonstrate the resilience and power of these climbers while shedding light on the obstacles that Black communities face when trying to access the great outdoors.” They also expressed their hope that this historic climb would inspire future generations of outdoor enthusiasts, educators, leaders, and mountaineers from diverse backgrounds to pursue their own goals. Before this expedition, only nine Black individuals had successfully reached the summit of Everest. The first was Sophia Danenberg, an American who accomplished this feat in 2006, which unfortunately did not receive widespread recognition. Today, at 50 years old, Danenberg works in environmental policy for Boeing. Despite this, she anticipates a significant increase in the number of Black climbers in the next decade or so. In an interview with the acclaimed climbing blog “Adventure Mountain,” she expressed her belief that as more Black individuals engage in climbing and introduce it to their families and communities, the number of Black climbers will see substantial growth.


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