Mountain Women Bachendri Pal
By Asha Ramachandran
Bachendri Pal, born in 1954 is the first Indian woman to successfully climb Mount Everest in 1984. But her journey started form the remote Nakuri village in Uttarkashi in an ethnic Bhotiya family at a very young age. Her family and friends wanted her to be a school teacher in the normal way. But a school picnic during which she climbed a peak became the turning point in her life and she became the most famous Indian woman mountaineer till date. She was just 12 when, along with her friends, she scaled a 13,123 ft high peak during a school picnic and there was no looking back. She achieved the feat of climbing Mount Everest just one day before her 30th birthday, and six days before the 31st anniversary of the first ascension of Mount
Everest by legendary Norgay-Hillary duo. She was awarded the third highest civilian award in India, Padma Bhushan in 2019 for her feat. Now she Bachendri Pal is approaching 70. But she has not hanged her boots nor allowed senior citizens to sit idle. Only last month she successfully led a first all women aged over 50 drawn from different walks of life on a rare mountaineering expedition. The 18-day voyage ended at Kaziranga. The team, known as ‘Fit@50+Summits and Steering Wheels,’ comprised 14 women from across the country in this odyssey. “This is my dream project,” says Pal who has carefully selected her 14-member squad of seasoned mountaineers who are also mothers, grandmothers, homemakers and retired professionals.
Titled FIT@50+ Women’s Trans Himalayan the expedition was flagged off from New Delhi earlier. The five- month-long expedition involved traversing the Himalayas from East to West - from Arunachal to Ladakh- covering over 4,977 km and crossing 37 mountain passes. They are all women aged over 50 drawn from different walks of life. But all of them are fit and even successfully completed an arduous climbing expedition to the Himalayas. The 18-day voyage ended with the last programme on wildlife tourism at Kaziranga. The team, known as ‘Fit@50+ Summits and Steering Wheels,’ comprised 14 women, led by legendary Padma Bhushan Bachendri Pal.
Source: Himalayan News Chronicle