Millennium Post

Peaking women and the Everest

Peaking women and the Everest
With climbing Mount Everest being possibly the summit of achievement in adventure sports, among those who had this peak experience this last fortnight were three gritty, determined and extraordinary Indian ladies. Putting the sedentary to shame, these ladies have answered the call of the mountains with an untamed spirit of adventure by ascending this highest of all mounts, this proudest of peaks, to stand on the roof of the world fully 8,848 metres above the level of the sea. Scaling this mountain of many names, Chomolungma to the Tibetans, Deodungha in Darjeeling, is still no mean feat, despite many hundreds having done so over several years and even in this very season, and braving the steep heights requires courage out of the ordinary.  Perhaps few can be as remarkably dauntless as Arunima Sinha, who is an amputee yet ascended this peak with a prosthetic leg, her accomplishment coming only nine days before the sixtieth anniversary of the first climb of Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953. She becomes the first woman in the world with a limb missing to have completed this ascent, though men without legs have done it before, with Mark Inglis of New Zealand, an amputee with both legs missing, having earlier reached the top of the peak, being among the small band of people with disabilities to have done so.

Tom Whittaker, a British mountaineer, was the first person with a disability to reach the top in 1998. The intractable mountain of changing shapes and hues, which draws and drains the best out of the healthiest and fittest climber, having left many dead or severely injured in the endeavour to master it, how much more difficult to grapple with it with a limb missing? Sinha’s tale of courage is inspiring. A volleyball player who played at the national level, she lost a leg in 2011 when she was thrown out of a moving train by hoodlums who were trying to rob her and whom she fought. Not wanting to be pitied, she decided to do something worthwhile with her life; hence her quest in the eternal snows and heights. Inspiring as well is the story of 21 year old sisters Tashi and Nancy Malik from Dehra Dun, who have become this month the first twins in the world to have scaled this tallest of mountains. The sisterhood of Indian women is literally showing the world that there is no peak ever so high they cannot climb above, no acme of achievement they cannot transcend, despite all odds.
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