Bachendri Pal celebrates 40th anniversary of Mt Everest Summit at Base Camp

Kathmandu, May 24 (PTI) Legendary mountaineer Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to reach atop Mt Everest, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the landmark expedition by trekking up to the Everest Base Camp and on Friday said she is elated and privileged to have got the opportunity to inspire others, especially young women.

Pal, who also celebrated her 71st birthday on Friday, was joined by 81-year-old Brigadier Darshan Kumar Khullar at Namche Bazar — halfway to the Base Camp – to “bless Bachendri Pal” as he declared notwithstanding his age and the treacherous climb at such high altitude.

Khullar, who was the principal of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) at Darjeeling then, had led the historic 1984 expedition to Mt Everest at an altitude of 8,848.86 metres.

The idea to commemorate the 40 years of Mt Everest Summit and “re-live” the 1984 expedition was initiated some months ago and it was decided to invite whosoever from the 1984 team was willing to join.

In 2008, Pal, a Padma Bhushan, formed ‘WANI’, the Women Adventure Network of India along with Bimla Negi-Deoskar, one of her team members from the 1993 expedition, which Pal led and created multiple records. The group was soon joined by women in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s, and from that came the members of trek this time.

Keeping true to the 1984 experience, the 15-odd members of WANI and some from the old team, started their trek from a place near Jiri, which was the original starting point for the traditional route from Nepal to the Summit (nowadays, mountaineers fly to Lukla and then start trekking) on May 9 and reached the Everest Base Camp, approximately at 18,000 feet, on Thursday.

Major Krishna Sharma, part of her pre-Everest expedition from 1993, and Sushma Bissa, wife of late Magan Bissa, a 1984 team member, too are part of the group.

“The 1984 expedition changed our lives forever; not just for ourselves but for many others … all the women wanted to relive that. So we decided to go there again,” Pal, who is still associated with the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF), said at Gorakshep.

Asserting that she is aware of her privilege that through her, “many more people were guided, inspired and mentored through mountaineering,” Pal, said, she is “very happy to have inspired a whole of people through these years and create awareness about the opportunities that this field offers, particularly to young women.”

The trek to the Base Camp is organised by TSAF and the agency under Bikram Pandey, who had helped out in 1984, took care of the logistics.

Pal, who has kept in touch with almost all people associated with the 1984 expedition, wrote a glowing tribute to Pande, the MD of Himex Nepal on her official Insta account on Friday evening and thanked him for his “kind words and unwavering support to the EBC team” and said, “Your support means a lot to all of us as we honour this remarkable milestone.”

In fact, he is not the only one Pal is still in touch with the family of Nepal’s late Sherpa Ang Dorjee, who was part of the 1984 expedition. His daughter, Asmita Dorjee, who climbed Mt Everest last year, is also part of the expedition “to be with her and sharing emotional moments and recollecting the memorable trip 40 years ago.”

The other members of the group would return via Lukla two days later but Pal and Negi-Deoskar plan to stay put at Namche Bazar for the ‘Everest Marathon’ that will be held on May 29 to mark the first summit of the world’s tallest mountain in 1953.

The adventurous ladies would return to Kathmandu by month-end.

“Totally immersed in the memories of 1984 expedition as wing commander Sridharan Rtd continues sharing his rich experience and memories of each of our 1984 expedition till we reach Lobuche, the second last camp to reach Everest Base Camp,” she posted on her Insta account two days ago.

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