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1-15 March 2010  
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Home - Management - Article

Bachendri Pal

First Indian woman to scale Mount Everest

The achievement

Bachendri reached the summit of Mount Everest, on May 23, 1984, and at 1:07 PM IST, she was standing at the peak (29,084 feet) along with one other climber. The peak was too small to conciliate two persons. All around the peak, there was a vertical drop of thousands of feet. So they first made themselves secured, by anchoring themselves by digging their ice axes into the snow. For about 43 minutes, she stayed on the summit, and took some photographs too. Thus she became the first Indian woman to scale the Mount Everest, and the fifth in the world to do so.

More recently, with the completion of the first-ever all women expedition organised across the Thar Desert, Pal has added yet another feather to her cap.

The challenges

The expedition assumes all the more significance as, irrespective of gender, this was also the first-of-its-kind across the sub continental desert. The 12-member team was given formal send off by the Border Security Force in Bhuj on January 16, 2007. The 2,000 kilometre expedition route passed through bordering villages across the Rann of Kutch, Thar Desert in adjoining Rajasthan and finally culminated at Wagah border in Punjab.

The trek covered around 508 kilometres in Gujarat with 350 kilometres traversed in Rann of Kutch. In Rajasthan, it covered more than 1,000 kilometres of the desert via Munabao, Jaisalmer and Ganganagar. Initially, the team was scheduled to complete the journey in 40 days. However, they managed to complete the expedition 10 days ahead of their schedule and arrived at the destination on February 18. According to Pal, this was one of the most unforgettable expeditions for her. "It was a journey into the unknown for us, which began with learning to ride camels," she said.

According to Pal, the team members had blisters all over their hands from holding on to the rope. "Back pains, body ache, we had it all, however, we were prepared for it and we took all the discomforts in our stride," Pal added. "The BSF people were amazed at our 60-kilometre-a-day journey on camels," Pal said, adding that the shifting on the camels had been an ordeal for the team, while negotiating the hills and sand dunes, especially on the descent. "Thar Desert is one of the most difficult landscapes on earth and is known for its unpredictable environment," Pal said, adding that her team members faced the challenges bravely to emerge winners against all odds well ahead of the scheduled target. "On crossing Gujarat border, we entered Munabao in Rajasthan," Pal said, adding that in the international border therein, the team gave sweets to the army posted along the international border.

The expedition was organised by Tata Foundation of Adventure Sports, under the supervision of Pal, with an idea to promote the spirit of adventure in the youth, particularly among rural women.

Bachendri Pal was the first Indian woman and the fifth in the world to summit Everest the highest peak in the world. She was initially trained as a teacher, but later on got her higher education in the mountains. Pal was born in 1954 in Nakuri village, Garhwal, India. She surmounted the peak on May, 23 in the year 1984. At 1.07 p.m. IST, stood at the Sagarmatha (Nepali version of Mt. Everest and remained there with one of her co-mountaineers, for 43 minutes.


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