6 Indian women mountaineers show what it requires to reach the top

1st Jun 2015
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Climbing to the top demands strength, whether it is to the top pf Mount Everest or to the top of your career, says former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam.

For years, Mount Everest has beckoned people to its summit. Many have lived to see the dream and push forth with all their might, and will power to finally scale the peak.

These six women have persevered to reach the top and have been victorious.

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Image credit: Shutterstock

Bachendri Pal: The year 1984 was a landmark year as Bachendri Pal scaled the Everest. She was the first woman to reach the summit.

Hailing from a village in the Himalayas in Uttarkashi, Bachendri has been conferred with the Padma Shri for her feat – the fourth highest civilian award in 1984 and the Arjuna Award in 1986. She also made it to the ‘Limca Book of Records’ in 1990.

In her autobiography, ‘Everest – My Journey to the Top’, she writes, “We trudged in the heavy powder snow for some time. Then the gradients started easing off noticeably. A few steps later I saw that after only a couple of metres there was no upward climb. The slops plunged steeply down. My heart stood still. It dawned on me that success was within reach. And at 1.07 pm on 23 May, 1984, I stood on top of Everest, the first Indian woman to have done so”.

Arunima Sinha: Arunima hails from Ambedkarnagar, a small district outside Lucknow, and was awarded the Padma Shri earlier this year.

In 2011, at the age of 24, while traveling in a train and faced with thugs, Arunima refused to surrender her gold chain. She was thrown off the train and lost her left leg.

She says, “My left leg was amputated. A rod was inserted in my right leg, from knee to ankle, to hold the shattered bones together. I pondered on the most impossible dream I could set for myself. I decided to climb the Everest.” When she announced her plan to people she was either laughed off or told the trauma had addled her brain. Read her full story here.

On May 21, 2013, she reached the Everest summit. She became the world’s first female amputee, and the first Indian amputee, to achieve this feat. This May marked her second anniversary of reaching the Everest summit.

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A sight of the steep mountains

Premlata Agarwal: At the age of 48, Premlata became the oldest Indian woman to have scaled the Mount Everest. This native of Jharkhand was awarded the Padma Shri in 2013.

She is the first person from Jharkhand to go on an expedition to the Everest. She even became the first Indian woman to have scaled the Seven Summits, after climbing McKinley Peak in May 2013. This mother of two has also made it to the ‘Limca Book of Records’.

Malavath Purna: On May 25, 2014, aged 13 years and 11 months, Malavath Poora scaled the highest peak of Mount Everest. In doing so, she became the youngest girl to have reached the summit of Everest. Malavath was born in Pakala village, Nizamabad district of Telengana state of India, on June 10, 2000.

Daughter of agricultural labourers who manage to earn a meagre Rs 3,000 in a month, Malavath was handpicked by the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Schools, which provides free education to the underprivileged children. The organization sends the tribal kids on expeditions.

“Climbing the Everest was certainly more difficult than I thought – but my willpower to prove that a tribal girl can do something kept me going,’” she was quoted soon after attaining her feat. “The satisfaction of all the hard work I had done and the quietness of the place and peace filled me,” she said.

Tashi and Nungshi Malik: Tashi and Nungshi are twins from Haryana. They share a common love for sports. On May 19th they scaled Mt.Everest and became the first twin sisters to do so.

They then completed the Seven Summits (the highest peak in each of the seven continents) and have skied to the North Pole as part of the Explorers Grand Slam.

They get their love for mountaineering from their father who is in the army.

Santosh Yadav: This Indian mountaineer is the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest twice and the first woman to climb Mt Everest from Kangshung face. She first climbed the peak in May 1992 and then repeated her feat in May 1993.

Hailing from Haryana, Santosh Yadav has been awarded the Padma Shri in 2000.

-“I had never seen snow in my life until the expedition happened. So once I climbed the highest mountain in the world, it was an incredible feeling. And I felt immensely satisfied and relieved to have finally achieved my goal. I still remember how I proudly raised the Indian flag and saluted it,”- says Santosh.

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