Bachendri Pal with Payo Murmu (left) and Lalmati Biruly in Jamshedpur on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, May 5: It’s a new altitude for women.
Ace mountaineer Bachendri Pal is gearing up to lead an all-woman Indian team to one of the most difficult terrains in the world.
Starting June 1, Bachendri will lead the 10-member team to Snowman’s Trek in Bhutan, fully sponsored by Tata Steel. The team will start at Drukgyel Dzong in Paro and conclude at Sephu Gewog.
Team members comprise Lalmati Biruly and Payo Murmu (Jharkhand), Chetna Sahoo (Bengal), Anuradha Rana (Uttarakhand), Rama Thakur (Himachal Pradesh), Kalpana Dash (Orissa), Chaula Jagirdar (Gujarat), Vasumati Srininivasan (Karnataka) and Bimla Deosker (Maharashtra).
Interestingly, Kalpana, like mentor Bachendri, has also scaled the Everest. She is the first woman from Orissa to have done so.
But six of them — Payo, Lalmati, Anuradha, Rama, Kalpana and Bimla — are accompanying Bachendri to an expedition for the first time. Though they had taken up expeditions on their own, they had never ventured on a serious, treacherous trek.
Barring 40-year-old Payo, a resident of Karandih, the rest have gone through basic and advanced courses from mountaineering institutes.
“I’m excited but nervous. I never thought of climbing peaks,” said Payo, a helper at Tata Steel.
Lalmati (24), from Tantnagar village near Chaibasa in West Singhbhum, completed her basic course from Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering, Darjeeling. “I want to thank madam (Bachendri) for this chance. I’m looking forward to the trek,” Lalmati, who works at a horse-riding school run by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation, smiled.
Bachendri said the team would assemble in Delhi on May 28 before leaving for Siliguri the next day. The trekkers will reach Bhutan on May 30. “The combination of distance, altitude, remoteness and weather makes the expedition a tough affair. The Snowman Trek traverses the remote Lunana district, and covers 11 high mountain passes, few of which are over 16500ft and one over 17800ft, with highest peak being 5230m,” she said.
The arduous trip will cover Lingshi, Shombuthang, Lhedi and Jichu Dramo in 25 days. “We’ll trek for six hours a day with two stopovers at Laya and Thanza,” Bachendri said.