Nungshi Malik and Tashi Malik, both 23, returned to Svalbard last week after a rigorous and treacherous journey across the sea ice to the North Pole.
The world-famous twins have therefore attained the Last Degree Explorers Grand Slam, a title requiring the ascent of the highest mountain on seven continents and to ski the last degree of latitude to both Poles. Only a few dozen people in the world have achieved the same and they are the first twins to do so.
"It was pretty intense and hard towards the end there," Nungshi said.
Severe weather and thin ice repeatedly threatened their expedition from 89 to 90 degrees latitude north after setting out from Russia's Barneo ice camp.
"Several teams withdrew, but we continued," Nungshi said. "Visibility was terrible and I could not see my sister, even though she was only a few steps away. But the most frightening was two days before we reached our target. The ice was incredibly thin."
Their guide, who was wearing a survival suit, went through the ice twice. The girls had no clothing to protect them from the cold water.
"We could have gone through through at any time," they said. "That would have been dangerous. God, it was chaotic. The guide said that we had to move fast, but that no one must follow the same track."
The procession managed finally to get themselves safely across the section and reached the North Pole on April 21, after five days of skiing.
Refusing to give up
They never considered quitting, despite the difficult conditions.
"No, the stakes were too high," they said. "We could think of nothing else than that we had to stand on. The conditions were completely different from the South Pole and we had to get used to the new surroundings."
To the tops
Nungshi and Tashi first attracted attention worldwide in 2013 when they became the first twins to ascend Mount Everest.
That was followed by the highest peaks in Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Europe, North and South America, with a stated goal of drawing attention to the difficult state of women in India.
"We thought that this was an opportunity to show that yes, girls can," they told Svalbardposten a few days before departing to the North Pole. "That was a strong motivator."
Anju Malik,, the twins' mother, said she had to pawn jewelry so they could realize their dreams..
"I'm so happy," she told Svalbardposten. "Today, the gold jewelry that I had to pledge is insignificant. Nugshi and Tashi are my jewels.What they have done is the most priceless gift I've ever gotten."
What the twins will do next is unclear.
"We are envisioning a new global project, but right now it's just endless ideas on the block. We have barely started on our lives."
Translated by Mark Sabbatini