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:

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

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

Astounding. Watch this.

Claire Carter Writer, Film Officer for Kendal Mountain Festival, 'Creative Consultant'.

Immensely dramatic and remarkably complete epic documentary about the challenges of female climbing in Afghanistan. Probably the best film in the festival because not only is it highly challenging, it is also a lot of fun. You will feel better about the world if you watch it.

Paul Hodgson Music Judge

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.