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Icy challenge in Everest quest

- Snowy winds leave Arunima stranded at base camp

Bad weather versus will power that is nothing short of brilliant.

That’s what the Everest expedition of amputee climber Arunima Sinha and middle-aged adventure instructor Susen Mahto has turned into.

Arunima and Mahto, part of the 20-member expedition team to Mount Everest, are having to stay put at the base camp since April 15 due to bone-numbing winds and heavy snowfall.

“Weather conditions permitting, the team is likely to leave for camp 1 on Tuesday,” Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) secretary P.P. Kapadia, who is in constant touch with Mahto, said.

“He called me to say the weather was gradually improving. Let us hope the team proceeds without further delay,” Kapadia said.

TSAF climbers Mahto and Arunima had reached base camp on April 15 evening. Since then, the duo have stayed rooted there. According to him, the team will go to camp 1 and again return to the base.

“It will be an acclimatisation drill as the climb is going to get even tougher from here. The real test begins now,” Kapadia said, adding both were in fine fettle and confident of the arduous task at hand.

A climb from a base camp to Everest peak usually takes a couple of weeks, if the weather god is benign. The stretch from the south base camp to the peak is dotted with four base camps — I, II, III and IV.

In the event of essential supplies running out or bad weather, climbers return to the safety of camps, only to resume their trek later.

Uttar Pradesh girl Arunima, a national-level volleyball player who was thrown out of a train in Bareilly in April 2011 and had to get her left leg amputated, received preparatory training in waist-height snow under legendary climber Bachendri Pal’s wing at Garhwal Himalayas.

If Arunima succeeds, she will be the first Indian woman amputee to scale Everest.

Mahto, on the other hand, has already scaled various peaks as part of his job as a TSAF instructor.

The Tata Steel-sponsored trek began on April 1 with Arunima and Mahto going from Lukla to Phakding. The team comprise climbers from India, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Poland, the US, the UK and Austria.

The base camp is a mini global village. But Arunima and Mahto only want to see the view from the top.


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