The Telegraph
Wednesday , April 9 , 2014
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Premlata to lead rookie climbers

- Six women & a man gear up for expedition to Everest base camp

Ace mountaineer Premlata Agarwal has her hands full for the next two months.

The Jugsalai homemaker, who is the oldest Indian woman to scale Mount Everest, is gearing up to lead a seven-member team, comprising mostly women, to the base camp of the world’s tallest peak. Later, Agarwal will lead an inter-school team on a trek to Darjeeling and Manali in May-June.

The two-week expedition to Everest base camp will start from Kathmandu on April 14. “I have been actively involved in motivating women to face challenges involved in adventurous expeditions. This stint will test the seven team members as all of them are inexperienced,” said the 51-year-old climber.

The team comprises Meenu Vora from Mumbai; Sheetal Shah, Rekha Menon and Priyanka Agarwal from Bangalore; Punam Tulsyan from Calcutta and Priyansha Agarwal from Jamshedpur. City-based Gursharan Singh is the lone man in the outfit.

While some of the team members are homemakers, others are professionals in diverse fields like yoga, management, marketing and medicine.

Speaking about the expedition, Premlata said the team would reach Kathmandu on April 12.

“I will reach the Nepal capital earlier to channelise things. We’ll hire a small aircraft for reaching Lukla (9,383 ft) on April 13 before starting the trek to the 17,598ft-high base camp the next day,” she told The Telegraph.

The veteran climber added that the trek usually took 10-11 days. “But, we will need 14 days as all team members are rookies. We are also hiring three porters and two assistant guides. There will be several halts during the expedition,” she added.

The team will also undertake a trek to 18,583ft-high Kala Patthar. “We’ll stay for about half-an-hour at the Everest base camp and return to Lukla to catch a flight to Kathmandu on April 27,” said Premlata, who has scaled the world’s seven highest peaks.

The women team members seemed excited ahead of the challenging trek. “I decided to start scaling heights with Everest base camp trek. I hope this is just the beginning,” said Sheetal Shah, a 35-year-old Bangalore-based professional.

Mumbai homemaker Meenu (50) said that since her teenage years, she had dreamt to go on an adventurous trekking expedition.

“Having fulfilled my responsibilities as a mother, a wife and a homemaker, I have got this opportunity to fulfil my long cherished dream. I have the chance to prove that even at this age I can embark on a trek that people half my age hesitate to set out on,” she said.

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