Himalaya girl power: Treks ‘by women, for women’

When sisters Lucky, Dicky and Nicky Chhetri began guiding trekkers through Nepal’s challenging mountain routes in 1994, disbelief came from many angles.

“At first, people thought we were doing sex tourism, not trekking – going into the mountains with foreigners for weeks,” says Lucky.

Surrounded by skeptics in an industry dominated by men – of 452 Nepalis who summited one of the country’s peaks in 2011 only three were female – the three sisters, now all in their mid-forties, have established not only a successful company of female guides and porters, but a pathway for girls from Nepal’s most remote and rugged areas toward employment and empowerment.

The first company to employ female guides in Nepal, 3 Sisters Adventure Trekking now employs around 25 women as guides and 40 as assistant guides and porters.

Two years after starting the company, they established Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN), a non-profit organization that provides training for girls over the age of 16 to become mountain guides.

During the six-month training periods, girls from around Nepal come to EWN to learn practical mountain skills, including rock climbing, guiding, cartography and first aid, as well as women’s health, leadership, English and flora and fauna of the Himalayas, in both a classroom and field setting.

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