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Press Release: Female Adventurer Re-Traces legendary Journey to Iran’s Valleys of the Assassins

Female Adventurer Re-Traces legendary Journey to Iran’s Valleys of the Assassins…In 1930s Clothing and Burberry Trench Coat

London, June 1 2022: Adventurer Elise Wortley has just returned from her most daring journey yet, to Iran’s infamous Valleys of the Assassins, following in the footsteps of trailblazing explorer Freya Stark, or as Elise likes to call her, the female Indiana Jones!

Through her project Woman with Altitude, Elise is on a mission to redefine what it means to be an explorer, while shining a light on forgotten female adventurers from the past, and women who work as guides in the tourism industry today. Elise has hit the headlines recently with her unique take on adventure, only using the equipment female explorers had at the time to demonstrate how difficult their journeys really were.

Kitted out in a 1930s Burberry coat (with matching hat), vintage leather walking boots and a traditional Persian tunic, Elise set out into the Iranian desert to the Alamut Valley, a remote area deep in the Alborz mountains. Apart from charting the area for the first time for the Royal Geographical Society, Freya Stark’s fascination with the mysterious Order of the Assassins, was her main reason for visiting the valley. Her book from her journey in 1930, The Valleys of the Assassins was hailed a classic at the time, yet Freya and other female explorers never became household names, and their work was not celebrated to the same extent as their male counterparts.

Joined by an all-female team, including pioneering Iranian guide Nadia Badiee from adventure travel company Intrepid Travel, a female film crew and a mule named, you guessed it, Miss. Stark, Elise and the team walked 145KM over 12 days through the untouched landscape of Alamut Province and the Alamut Valley. Following Freya’s path and staying with women and families along the way, Elise and the team were some of the first tourists to walk these paths since before the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Iran is a fascinating, deeply misunderstood country,” explains Elise, “it was a real honour to follow in Freya’s footsteps through a completely untouched landscape, fully immersing myself in her world and meeting so many welcoming people along the way. The adventure space is still male dominated, like it was 100 years ago, and I hope through this project we can change that. My mission is to inspire other women to go on adventures, no matter how big or small, and to show that adventure can be accessible for everyone.

With support from The North Face, Elise and the team will be creating a documentary film from the journey. The film will be created by an all-female identifying team, something very rare in the adventure film space.


For more information, interviews with the team or images please contact Elise on

Additional Information:

  • Through this adventure, Elise and the team are fundraising for UNICEFs Give the World a Shot Campaign with the Intrepid Foundation.

  • More information on Intrepid Travel’s Women’s Expedition in Iran, led by Nadia Badiee can be found here.

  • More information on Intrepid Travel’s work with female guides across the world can be found here.

  • Watch Elise on BBC One’s Countryfile here.

Watch Elise in the latest Clinique campaign, celebrating female adventurers here.


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