Steel city climber Asmita Dorjee will huff and puff when she attempts the world's tallest roof sans supplementary oxygen.
The 38-year-old Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) senior instructor is geared up to attempt the 29,029 ft Mount Everest next month. Till now, no Indian woman has climbed the summit without using supplementary oxygen.
"I have trained hard for the challenge and confident of summitting the Everest," Asmita said at a press conference at JRD Tata Sports Complex on Tuesday. The climber added she was aware about the tough challenge but was nevertheless determined to make a serious attempt.
The attempt will be unique considering extreme thin air and death zone above 8,000-metre, strong winds and extreme cold conditions. There have been very few people in the world who have climbed the Everest without supplementary oxygen. Due to very low oxygen available, climbers need to put supplementary oxygen from camp-3 (above 7,100-metre) to survive and return safe. She will leave for Nepal on April 3.
TSAF was planning to send Asmita to Everest in 2020 and 2021. however, the expedition got postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic around the world.
A Sherpa by origin, Asmita was born in Thesu, a tiny village above Namache Bazaar in Everest region. Although, the mountain oxygen runs in her blood, she moved to India after her mother passed away in 1989. Her father was Sherpa of Bachendri Pal during 1984 and later passed away in another expedition. She was then brought up by Bachendri Pal as a family member. TSAF supported Asmita to complete her basic mountaineering course in 2001 and subsequently advanced mountaineering course in 2003. Then, she was employed as instructor at TSAF to conduct outdoor leadership courses and expeditions.
She is a strong mountaineer with many feathers to her list of mountaineering achievements. She has climbed and attempted more than 8 peaks above 6,000m. She has successfully climbed Mount Satopanth (7,075m), Mount Dharamsura (6,420m), Mount Gangotri 1 (6,120m), Mount Stok Kangri (6,070m), Kang Yatse 2 (6,270m), Djo Zongo (6,240m). Asmita has climbed Mount UT Kangri (6,030m) in winter and reached 5,700m.
These expeditions were the building blocks of her mountaineering journey. An expedition to this highest summit requires a lot of active preparation which she started in April 2019. She has been training for last 3 years with focus to improve her strength, endurance & stamina keeping no oxygen attempt in mind. She has climbed various 7,000m and 6,000m peaks as part of her training and additionally, cycling and running for long distances. She was also doing lot of trail running in TSAF base camp at Uttarkashi and Dalma hills in Jamshedpur. The experience and learnings from other Everesters at TSAF have played a key role in her preparations.
On what led her to attempt Everest sans supplementary oxygen , Asmita recalled. "Madam (Bachendri Pal) asked climber Poonam Rana, who was one of the TSAF candidate for the Everest expedition in 2018, would she like to attempt Everest sand supplementary oxygen. I heard this and thought of myself taking up this challenge." Poonam reached the world's tallest peak with oxygen support in 2018.
Her roots have been calling her back since her father’s death on Mount. Everest. It will not just be an achievement but a moment full of emotions while she breathes the same air where she was born, without taking help of supplementary oxygen.
Chanakya Chaudhary, chairman, TSAF and vice-president (Corporate Services), Tata Steel who also flagged off the challenging expedition said: “We are delighted to champion this and wish the very best to Asmita for a successful and safe climb as she attempts to summit of Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen. This attempt is an example of the ultimate showcase of human endurance and the indomitable spirit that she possesses. Asmita’s safety, however, will remain the first priority for the team. The Foundation, through its unique proposition and sustained endeavours, continues to promote adventure sports in the country and inspire the coming generations.”
After successful climb of Bachendri Pal (first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest) in 1984, so far TSAF has supported and trained 10 climbers who have successfully summited Mount Everest. They include Premlata Agarwal (7 summits) in 2011,- R S Pal, Meghlal Mahato, Binita Soren (2012), Arunima Sinha and Susen Mahato (2013), Hemant Gupta (2017) and Sandeep Tolia, Poonam Rana, Swarnlata Dalai (2018).
Asmita is scheduled to fly to Kathmandu on April 3 after which she will leave for Everest Base Camp (via Lukla) on April 6. The journey will take around eight days to reach base camp where she will spend 2-3 days to acclimatize. She will then attempt Lobuche East, which stands at 6,119 m in the same region. After that, she will return to base camp for acclimatization rotation till camp 3 for around a month. She will then have to wait for a good weather window which is expected from May 15– 25
Hemant Gupta, head, TSAF and Premlata Agarwal, manager, TSAF and recipient of Padma Shri and 1st Indian woman to climb 7 summits shared their experiences on respective Everest expeditions and challenges during the press meet.