Everest Base Camp seen from Crampon Point, the entrance into the Khumbu icefall below Mount Everest, on April 18, 2014, following an avalanche that killed 16 Nepalese sherpas. The avalanche spurred a virtual shutdown of the world’s tallest peak. AFP photo
The city of Bachendri Pal, Premlata Agrawal and younger trailblazers may see another Everest Mission of Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) after a long while.
Faced with sobering tragedies such as 16 Nepalese sherpa deaths in the Himalayan avalanche of April 18 and the fruitless search for Bengal climber Chanda Gayen and her two sherpas who got lost in Kanchenjungha on May 20, the TSAF said it would not send anyone from Jharkhand to the Everest this year.
“We will not send any climber from the state to Everest this year and even in the near future. We did not find any suitable climber to undertake the Everest expedition this year. Future expeditions will take place only if we find suitable candidates,” TSAF secretary P.P. Kapadia said.
He added that devastating mishaps were a reality check.
“Even when we do find suitable climbers to take on the Everest challenge, we will take thorough precautions,” Kapadia said.
On April 18, an avalanche occurred off the west shoulder of Mount Everest, knocking off the mountain’s icy shelves between the infamous Khumbu Icefall and Camp I at an altitude of some 19,500 feet.
The deadliest Everest accident ever, it killed 16 climbers.
On May 20, Bengal climber Chanda and two high-altitude sherpas were caught in an avalanche at a height of 7,500 metres when they tried to summit Kanchenjungha West, also known as Mt Yulan Kang, after scaling Kanchenjungha Main, the world’s third highest mountain peak near Nepal-India-China triangle.
Rescue operations have not yielded any clue.
A TSAF source said the adventure outfit led by India’s first woman Everester Pal trains and prepares candidates physically, mentally and emotionally for high-altitude expeditions but fear of a repeat avalanche couldn’t be discounted in a hurry.
“Even parents of climbers are scared,” he said.
Usually Pal selects a handful of aspirants for the prestigious Everest mission and trains them. The best are recommended to Tata Steel management for a final approval. The steel major sponsors the trip.
The success rate of TSAF has been spectacularly high. Supermom Premlata Agarwal annexed the Everest in 2011 while Pal’s brother Rajendra Singh Pal as well as two youngsters in their twenties Meghlal Murmu and Binita Soren were the next to reach the top the following year. Amputee Arunima Sinha and TSAF mentor Susen Mahto were the last climbers who successfully undertook the Everest expedition under TSAF banner in 2013.
Can you suggest alternative venues for climbers to keep their passion alive?