Ascending Afghanistan: Women Rising

Young women in Afghanistan becoming leaders through climbing and mountaineering
The night before ascent



Erik Osterholm


Vice Impact

Running time

43 minutes

Country / Nationality


Our Judges say:

At times, this documentary is extremely challenging to watch because it does not hold back from contextualising the barriers women must overcome in this film. Though this in turn helps demonstrate why this all-female group's expedition is truly empowering and ground-breaking.

Ruth Farrar

The challenge is not always a peak this film demonstrates that in spades an incredibly harrowing story. Contains graphic scenes, extreme violence watch with corsham.

Ed Birch Director of Salt-Street productions

A group of Afghan women attempt to climb the highest mountain in Afghanistan. As determined as they are, it seems even they underestimated the challenge they were taking on, mentally, physically, and culturally. Powerful and sometimes hard to watch, but please do watch it.

Anna Paxton

A joint venture between Vice and HBO, we learn about the everyday challenges of being a woman in Afghanistan, and some dark chapters in the history of women's rights there.
The bulk of the film follows a group of young women as they progress through a programme of training and then an attempt on a high peak in Afghanistan, accompanied by local climbers and a US based guide, Danika Gilbert. It is a challenging and sometimes emotional journey for everyone, as they battle injury, tiredness and personal demons. But the girls' energy is contagious, and inspiring.
Each participant wants to summit Mount Noshaq. The more important question is whether the experience can help them live their lives as fully and bravely as possible.