Bachendri Pal’s band of women climbers is back, ready to challenge the mountains once again.
This time, the Everester will be leading a seven-member team to Tibet’s Kharta Valley known for spectacular mountains, high glacial lakes and alpine flowers.
The fortnight-long trek, the 2014 edition of Tata Steel Adventure Foundation’s all-women outdoor expedition, gets underway on September 20, promising to be a tough test for participants.
“Leading a team to Kharta Valley was my long-cherished dream. I am happy that it is materialising,” Pal told The Telegraph.
Her team includes, Everester Premlata Agarwal, Sheetal Ekka (Jamshedpur), Nakamani Hembrom (Kalinganagar, Odisha), Jyoti Sharma, Tanu Verma (New Delhi), Madhvi Sharma (Dehradun) and Chetna Sahu (Calcutta).
Sponsored by Tata Steel, the trek is aimed at empowering women and helping them meet challenges and setting new standards.
“Tata Steel has always supported women’s causes in a big way. The trip to Kharta Valley is in continuance of that step which involves empowering women,” added Pal, now chief of the adventure foundation.
Sharing details on the itinerary, Pal, said Premlata, Nakamani, Sheetal and herself would leave Jamshedpur for New Delhi on September 11 while the others would join them at the national capital.
“We will all assemble in Delhi on September 12 and fly to Kathmandu two days later. We’ll depart from the Nepalese capital on September 17 by road and reach Tibet the same day. Like all other treks in Tibet, it will be strenuous. Since it involves high passes, we will need careful acclimatisation. The trek will end on October 3,” Pal said.
Premlata, the oldest Indian woman to annex Mount Everest in 2011, said the trip also comes with a lot of responsibilities for them, as some of the team members were first timers.
“Weather conditions will be windy and cold. We’ll prefer home-made non-perishable foodstuff like sattu, suji and laddoo,” she explained.
The team will be assisted by Nepalese cooks and porters as members camp on tents. The return journey will be via Lhasa.
Pal has also led all-women expeditions to Mount Island Peak (2004), Karakoram Pass, Stok Kangri, Thar Desert, Mount Kilimanjaro (2006-08), Snowman Trek (2011) and Annapurna Circuit (2013).