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First Muslim women conquer Mount Everest

Two Iranian women were among 46 climbers who reached the world's highest summit Monday.

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Two Iranians are the first Muslim women to conquer Mount Everest after a 10-week expedition that was beset by bad weather and an avalanche that injured other team members.

Farkhondeh Sadegh, a graphic designer, and Laleh Keshavarz, a dentist, hoisted their country's tricolor flag on the 29,035-foot summit, together with six Iranian men, on Monday morning.

"It's fantastic," Mohammad Hajabolfath, the editor of the website Iran Mountain Zone (www.mountainzone.ir), told the Monitor by telephone from Tehran. "It is a very big thing for women in Iran. Because of appalling weather conditions, most climbers here expected to hear the Iranian team would be returning unsuccessfully."

The window of opportunity for a final push on the summit had become ever narrower in recent days with the approach of the monsoon season.

Thirty-eight other climbers, including American Christine Joyce Feld Boskoff, made it to the top as teams took advantage of a rare break in the weather.

Mona Mulepati, leading a three- member team, became the first non-Sherpa woman from Nepal to reach the top of the world. Ms. Mulepati is Newar, Kathmandu's main ethnic community.

Ms. Sadegh is one of Iran's most experienced women climbers. She took up the sport while in college a decade ago and first saw Everest when she scaled nearby Mount Pumori, a 23,494-foot mountain, in 2001. Ms. Keshavarz, from the eastern town of Zahedan, had also climbed in the Himalayas before.

They were among a 21-member Iranian team, including seven women, who arrived in Nepal in mid-March. A huge avalanche earlier this month caused havoc for the team, which had been forced lower down the mountain by snowstorms. Two male climbers were injured.

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