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Mission Everest turns mission impossible

- Tata Steel foundation fails to find a single mountaineer capable of daunting task in 2014

Spirit of adventure, RIP. Mount Everest is calling Jharkhand no more.

The Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) is yet to find a climber worthy of annexing the 29,029ft giant although a hunt for one has been on since amputee Arunima Sinha tamed the world’s tallest summit in May this year. And, there is little hope it will land a suitable candidate anytime in the near future.

Normally, the names of probables are announced by February-end. Chief of TSAF programmes Bachendri Pal selects a handful for the mission and trains them. Recommendations for the best reach the Tata Steel management for final approval. “This time, the Everest mission has not been discussed with the company yet,” an insider said.

Since the TSAF has no exclusive training module for the Everest, only candidates who have completed advance mountaineering courses are eligible for the expedition.

According to sources, the names of some tribal climbers — both men and women who have participated in TSAF expeditions — are doing the rounds. However, no one has been finalised because the authorities believe they are not ready for such a daunting task.

“I don’t think we will be able to send anyone for the Everest mission in 2014. There are no suitable climbers,” TSAF secretary P.P. Kapadia was candid with The Telegraph on Tuesday.

On what will happen in 2015 and the years thereafter, selector Bachendri said over phone from Dehradun that they had no choice but to wait for the right person. “We are not sending anyone to the Everest in 2014. Let’s hope to find a suitable candidate later on.”

This will be the first time since 2011 that no climber from Jharkhand will make an attempt to wrest the peak. Four mountaineers from the state — Premlata Agarwal, Meghlal Mahto, Binita Soren and Rajendra Pal Singh — conquered the Everest between 2011 and 2012.

While 50-year-old Premlata aced the Everest summit on May 20, 2011, and became the oldest Indian woman to do so, Rajendra, Meghlal and Binita made history on May 27, 2012. Tata Steel had sponsored them all.

Making an exception this year, the steel major mentored Uttar Pradesh girl Arunima who became the first amputee in the world to annex the peak. “Normally, we select candidates for the Everest expedition from Jharkhand, but Arunima’s case was special. She is an inspiration for all, men and women,” said a TSAF functionary.

The 27-year-old, who was thrown out of a moving train in 2011, underwent extensive training under Bachendri in the Garhwal Himalayas before she undertook the challenging mission. She was made to walk in knee-deep snow and climb up and down mountains as part of her rigorous routine. TSAF senior instructor and Everester Susen Mahto was also a member in the May expedition with Arunima.

Do you think the state will win Everest glory in the near future?

Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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