a rebellious child,
loved wandering in the snowclad Garhwal Himalayas. Her family was often
entertained by her dreams of travelling in airplanes and meeting famous
She was independent and fearless, and first tasted the excitement of
altitudes when together with a group of l2-year-old classmates; she
4000m (13,123 feet) during a picnic, could not come down before
spent the night there without food or shelter!
like most Garhwal girls
she was expected to leave school and help in the house. But her
to study impressed her family to let her finish high school. She, as a
earned money by sewing in her spare time. The principal of her school
her family to send her to college, where she won over both boys and
in rifle shooting and other competitions.
B.A. graduation thrilled
her parents, who wanted her to be the first girl in the village with a
She eventually did an M.A. in Sanskrit and then B.Ed. In spite of these
achievements the job offers that came in were only chickenfeed,
positions, so Bachendri applied to the Nehru lnstitute of
Mountaineering for a
course. She was judged the best student in the course, and marked down
'Everest material', much to her surprise.
advanced camp at NIM in
1982, she climbed Gangotri I (6672m/21,900ft.) and Rudugaira
Her mentor was Brigadier Gyan Singh, Director of the National Adventure
Foundation, who set up an Adventure Club for young women to learn
mountaineering skills. It also provided an instructor's job for
whose family was under economic pressure.
fourth expedition to
Everest was scheduled for 1984, and till then only four women in the
ever scaled the peak. The '84 team comprised of seven women and 11 men,
this was Bachendri Pal's first real expedition.
an avalanche with
injuries and other problems, she conquered the summit of Sagarmatha
name for the highest peak in the world) at l:07 p.m. on 23 May, 1984.
It was an
arduous climb of over 29,028 ft. (8848 m). Her dream came true. In 1985
an All-women team to Everest, and in 1994, led an All-women rafting
the river Ganges, from Hardwar to Calcutta.
Bachendri Pal won several
awards during her illustrious mountaineering career. She was awarded
Padmashree in 1985 and the Arjuna award in 1986. She twinkles in the
Book of World Records too.
put together all her
experiences of mountaineering in her autobiography, "Everest-My journey
the top." She is currently employed as Deputy Divisional Manager
(adventure programmes), Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. Her life
hard work and the will to succeed can elevate one to greater heights of
EVEREST PEAK - Some
- First surveyed in 1852
during the Great Trigonometric Survey of India.
- First known as Peak XV -
later named Everest.
- First scaled in May 1953 -
by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary.
- More than 1500 people have
climbed-almost 800 in the last 5 years.
- More than one-third of the
summiteers are Sherpas.
- First woman to scale the
peak was a Japanese-in May 1975.
- First south Asian woman to
reach the top is Bachendri Pal from India – in May 1984.
- 15-year-old Temba Tsheri,
a Nepalese student is the youngest to reach Everest-in 2001.
- Everest View Hotel at
12,779 is the world's only hotel at this altitude.
- Sherpa Ang Rita has
climbed the Everest ten times without oxygen and he is also the only
person in the world to have climbed the Everest without oxygen in
- A 63-year-old Japanese
woman is the oldest woman to reach the top – May 2002.
- According to a report,
there are at least 100 tonnes of litter on the higher slopes of
Everest, making it the "world's highest garbage site".
- All 14 Nos. of the world's
peaks over 8000m are in the Himalayas.
- The Himalayas are 25
million years old.
- Each year the Himalayas
grow a few centimeters as the Indian plate pushes into Asia.
- Satellite measurement in
1999 showed the increase in the Everest Peak from 8848 in to 8850m.
drops by 0.60 C for every