After Aconcagua miss, Tata climbers eye Everest

Three-member team will train in Uttarakhand under mountaineer Bachendri Pal

HIGH RISERS: Swarnalata Dalai (from left), Sandeep Tolia and Poonam Rana at Tata Steel Adventure Foundation at Bistupur, Jamshedpur on Friday. (Bhola Prasad)

Jamshedpur: Although they could not scale Mount Aconcagua (22,831ft) in Argentina because of extreme weather, Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) climbers will be off to Uttarakhand to gear up for the mighty Everest challenge next month.

The team, comprising Sandeep Tolia, Poonam Rana and Swarnalata Dalai, returned to the city on Friday evening after reaching Camp 3 (19,400ft) of Mount

Aconcagua earlier this week. The trio will now undergo extensive training under legendary climber Bachendri Pal in Uttarakhand. The four will leave for the hill state on February 25.

"I will train them in Uttarkashi region. The three will undergo multiple trainings including how to take calculated risk and build endurance, weight training and decision making. It will be a hard stint. After all, they will be climbing the Everest and they need to be adequately equipped to face the challenges," Pal, chief of Tata Steel adventure programmes, said.

The training will start on March 2 and go on till March 20. "Climbers should know how to cope with the climate. Speed is also a key element in mountaineering," Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest in 1984, said.

Sharing the Argentina expedition with this paper, the three climbers who returned to the city on Friday evening said it was a tough stint but they got adequate exposure. "Though we could not make it to the summit, the exposure would keep us in good stead during the Everest expedition. We could not proceed beyond Camp 3 due to wind and heavy snowfall. The guide did not allow us to go any further. It was very risky," Sandeep (42) , a senior instructor at TSAF, said.

Poonam, who hails from Naid village in Uttarkashi district and is in-charge of TSAF's base camp at Kaflo, said the expedition exposed them to the vagaries of nature. "It was a learning experience. It taught us how to wear crampons (a traction devise that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during climbing) and gloves," the 21-year-old recalled.

Swarnalata (20), a tribal from Jagadhia village in Odisha, said they generally sustained on chocolates and noodles. " Bhaat khaye bahut din hogaya. Ghar jakar sabse pehle bhaat khaungi (Haven't tasted rice for days. Would eat a plateful of rice as soon as a I reach home)," she said, adding it was biting cold during the journey from Camp 2 (17,330 ft) to Camp 3.

The team, which also had climbers from Brazil and Australia, used to stay out in the tents from 5pm to 8am. "We used to trek 5-6 km daily during the day and rest in the evenings," Sandeep said.


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