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Climber mom in hills, eyes Antartica

- Premlata Agarwal acclimatises in Darjeeling before big Vinson Masiff climb

Jamshedpur, Dec. 1: Climber mom Premlata Agarwal is eyeing new heights — Antarctica’s Vinson Masiff.

The 46-year-old, who became the country’s oldest and the state’s only woman to scale Mount Everest last year, is setting up camp in Darjeeling to acclimatise herself to winter conditions, even though it won’t be anywhere near the sub-zero temperatures of the Antarctica.

Agarwal, who reached Darjeeling today, will start trekking from tomorrow and hopes to put in some solid work before she starts for Vinson Masiff — the highest mountain in Antartica, lying in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains — on December 24.

The climber will start by measuring Darjeeling’s Tiger Hill and carry loads on her back as she treks, as porters will not be available during her Vinson Masiff expedition.

“I arrived in Darjeeling today and stretched my legs a bit near the hills. I will be slogging it out on Tiger Hills from tomorrow morning and intend to make full use of whatever little time I have here with me,” Premlata said.

The Jamshedpur-based climber, who has her eyes set on the Seven Summits of the world to enter the mountaineer’s Hall of Fame, said she wants to get used to trekking with 25-30 kilo loads on her back at least.

“Apart from Tiger Hill, I will also try and climb other little peaks in Darjeeling before heading back to Jamshedpur on December 17. The conditions in Darjeeling are different from that in the Antarctica. However, it’s the cold that I will try and get used to while my stay here,” Premlata said. She added that the temperature in the hill station currently fluctuated between three and five degree Celsius.

Stressing on the importance of acclimatisation, she told The Telegraph over phone that foreigners attempting the Vinson Massif — the highest point of which is at 16,050 ft — usually started to prepare themselves a month before the climb.

“So it is important for me to get used to the conditions quickly because the temperature in the Antarctic is likely to be near the –20°C mark in December,” she said.

She expects the climb to be arduous as well. “I need to mentally and physically fit for making it. I will have to carry around a load of around 40 kg when I climb. It is a challenge but I am confident and am regularly practising yoga as it is very helpful,” Agarwal said.

The gritty mom of two — who has already annexed Mount Everest, (29,029 ft), Kilimanjaro (19,308 ft), Aconcagua (22,841ft), Elbrus (18,510ft) and Carstensz Pyramid (16,024ft) of the famed Seven Summits — will just have Mt Mckinley (20,320ft) to conquer, after her Vinson Massif expedition.