Tata Steel Adventure Foundation secretary PP Kapadia felicitates Premlata Agarwal at JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Friday, after her conquest of Indonesia’s Carstendz Pyramid. Picture by Bhola Prasad
A 48-year-old mother of two from Jamshedpur is making lofty peaks bow to her feet.
Premlata Agarwal, the country’s oldest woman to have scaled the world’s tallest peak Mount Everest last year, has now added another summit to her illustrious cap of achievements.
The Jugsalai-based homemaker recently tamed Carstendz Pyramid — the world’s highest island peak located in Indonesia (Australia-Oceania continent) — bringing her closer to achieving her dream of conquering the Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks of the world.
Back in the city on Friday after what she said was an “arduous yet satisfying trek”, the mountaineer had no qualms in stating that the Carstendz Pyramid tested the limits of her stamina and willpower.
“Oh, the climb was tough,” Premlata said. “First came rain, then the tumbles. And if those weren’t enough, our climbing team, that’s me and three American nationals, had to wade through waist-high slushy trail just to get to the base camp,” she said.
At the end of it all, she said she was refreshed and content to have made it to the 16,024ft peak. “It was a challenging climb. Several things did not work for us as we continued on our trek but we did not lose heart. I am very happy to have come back successful,” Premlata told The Telegraph.
She added that like always, rains posed the toughest poser. “We flew to Timika from Bali on October 15. Then we took a hour-long flight to Sugada to approach the base camp,” she recalled.
Troubles started soon enough. “We hired some local porters. However, these men still seemed to be living in the stone ages. They bickered among themselves and fished out choppers and pistols at the drop of a hat. They also tried to threaten us into paying more money. We somehow carried on through swampy jungle routes as we did not have too many options,” Premlata said.
The four-member team had to stop and set up five camps in the rain forest. “I fell a number of times and had to wade through swamp that was waist-high at one time. My knee-length climbing boots were filled with slush. I used electric tape instead of medical bandages for my wounds. We walked for 10-12 hours daily before making it to the base camp on October 22,” she said.
The mountain offered a daunting vertical climb. Compounding the woes was a gauge valley between two mountains, thousands of feet deep.
“We had to trawl on a rope to get to the other end. Scary!” she winced.
Finally, the team reached the peak around 8.30am (IST) on October 23. “There was very little space, so we stood on the peak one by one,” she added.
Carstendz Pyramid in her kitty, the climber will now attempt Vinson Massif (16,050ft) in Antarctica in December and Mt McKinley (20,320 ft) in Alaska in 2013.