Mission Everest accomplished, once more
Fitness-savvy TSAF trio reach summit with ease, earn praises from Bachendri
Place: Top of the world
People: Sandeep Tolia, Swarnalata Dalai, Poonam Rana
Jamshedpur: The daredevil trio from Tata Steel Adventure Foundation successfully annexed Mount Everest on Monday morning to take the number of climbers from the outfit who have scaled the 29,029ft challenge to 10.
Sandeep (42), a senior TSAF instructor, was the first to reach the summit at 7.57am followed by Swarnalata, a tribal native of Odisha, at 8.10am. Poonam, who is the in-charge of the premier adventure outfit's base camp at Kuflon in Uttarakhand, conquered the peak at 9.30am.
The expedition team had left Camp 4 (26,085ft) at 2.30am and reached the peak via the Everest balcony. The three spent 15 minutes on the top of the world with their sherpas before beginning descent. Sandeep, Swarnalata and Poonam will reach Camp 2 ((21,000ft) by evening and drop anchor at Base Camp (17,600ft) on Tuesday morning. The climbers will busy themselves in cleaning for a day before trekking back to Lukla and then flying to Kathmandu on May 26.
An ecstatic Bachendri Pal, the chief of Tata Steel adventure programmes and the first Indian woman to scale Everest in 1984, said this was the fittest expedition team she had seen so far.
"Kathmandu-based Asian Trekking Agency, which conducted the journey, has heaped praises on Sandeep, Swarnalata and Poonam. The agency even said the climbers were too fit to face any challenge in reaching the peak," Bachendri said from Dehradun.
The legendary climber stressed that the journey to the world's tallest peak was full of uncertainties, but she was always confident about the success of the trio. "My happiness knew no bounds when I heard the news (from Kathmandu) about our climbers making it to the summit this (Monday) morning," the Padma Shri said.
Sandeep, Swarnalata and Poonam underwent extensive Everest-specific preparations under Bachendri in Uttarkashi. The three, along with a five-member team headed by her, also trekked all the way to the Base Camp from Jiri (near Kathmandu) as a part of the training process.
The climbers engaged themselves into acclimatisation drills soon after reaching Base Camp on April 14. They scaled Lobuche East (21,161ft), crossed the vulnerable Khambu Icefall and trekked to and fro from Base Camp to Camp 3 (23,625ft) before beginning the final ascent on May 18.
The six others from TSAF who have conquered Everest are Premlata Agarwal (2011), Rajender Singh Pal, Vinita Soren and Meghlal Mahto (2012), Susen Mahto (2013) and Hemant Gupta (2017).