Six women are all geared to reach the summit of the world’s highest peak, starting March 26. The head of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TASF) Bachendri Pal is going to lead an all women’s expedition to Gokyo and the Everest Base Camp. For the uninitiated, 1954-born Pal became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1984. Since then, she has organised many women’s expeditions and among them was the Indo Nepalese Women’s Everest Expedition (1993) in which 18 climbers reached the summit, of which seven were women, giving India the highest number of ‘women Everest summiteers’ at that time.
The six-member team comprises Premlata Agrawal (officer in Tata Steel & Padma Shree Awardee who has climbed all the seven highest summits of seven continents), Swarnalata Darai from Odisha, Shanti Hembrum from Noamundi Jharkhand, Poonam Rana from Uttarakhand, V Saraswati from Border Security Force Delhi and Amla Rawat from Dehradun. Sandeep Tolia, a TSAF staff, is also participating in this. Avid trekkers, Hemant Gupta and Payo Murmu are also part of the team. Gupta joined Tata Steel in 2013 and is now a manager and Murmu is working as loco traffic ground control staff in the raw material division of Tata Steel.
The trek will begin from Jiri, the traditional beginning of the trail, through to Lukla and Namche Bazaar. From here, the trail leads up the Gokyo valley, and includes a traverse of the Gokyo ridge. After crossing two passes of over 16,000ft, the trail then reaches the Everest Base Camp.