Aconcagua at his feet, Everest next

IITian-turned-climber braves snowstorm

By Jayesh Thaker
  • Published 3.03.15
Hemant Gupta

Most people will call an IITian turning to a career in adventure as jumping off a cliff.

But, IITian Hemant Gupta (25), who left the corporate ladder to join Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) as a manager, has found a worthy peak.

On a snowy and stormy Sunday, Hemant annexed Mount Aconcagua, South America's highest mountain at 22,837ft above sea level.

With this, Hemant becomes the fourth climber from Jharkhand to conquer the tall one, the earlier three being Everesters Premlata Agarwal, Binita Soren and Meghlal Murmu, who achieved the feat in February 2012.

"Hemant and a French mountaineer were the only ones from a group of 12 who reached the summit. Other failed as the weather was extremely cruel to say the least," TSAF secretary P.P. Kapadia, who kept a tab on his young colleague's expedition, told The Telegraph on Monday.

"There was a huge snowstorm during the ascent. You can't imagine how risky it is in the mountain when nature unleashes its fury. It's a steep climb, with thin oxygen. So, when you get a snowstorm along the way, it's no joke. But, Hemant's done a great job. Thankfully, everything went well and he is in fine fettle," Kapadia said.

Called stone sentinel, Mount Aconcagua, with many rugged faces, is located in the world's longest mountain range Andes in Argentina. Aconcagua is one of the seven highest summits of the world.

Hemant, along with 50-year-old climber, mother of three and Tata employee Payo Murmu, will undertake the more tasking Everest expedition in April-May.

"I'm sure Aconcagua, as a pre-Everest expedition, will boost Hemant's confidence," said Kapadia, adding he was expected to reach Jamshedpur later this week.

The young mountaineer, who earlier scaled Island Pek in 2012 and was also part of the TSAF expedition to Chamsher Kangri the same year, had successfully scaled visa hurdles for his Argentina trip.

Hailing from Kota, Rajasthan, the metallurgy graduate from IIT-Bombay worked for Tata Steel, Jamshedpur and Kalinganagar (Odisha), but was always interested in adventure. He joined TSAF as its manager in 2013. Apart from a basic mountaineering course from Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali, Hemant, along and TSAF senior instructor Sandeep Tolia, also trained at US-based National Open Leadership School (NOLS) in 2014.

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