Ten years ago Premlata Aggarwal was just another Indian housewife busy raising two daughters. Earlier this month, the 45-year-old set foot on top of Mount Everest and entered the record books as the oldest Indian woman to achieve that feat. Inspired by Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman on Everest, Aggarwal started climbing at the age of 35. “My feat shows no dream is too big. And it’s not physical fitness alone that matters while attempting Everest,” she said.
Aggarwal’s feat is also remarkable as she’s the first woman from the Marwari community to have scaled Everest. She said unwavering support from family members was another factor for her success. It’s an Indian summer on Everest with several successfully reaching top of the world. But women climbers like Aggarwal have outshone the men and grabbed eyeballs with their feats.
In May, Anshu Jamsenpa, a 32-year-old mother of two from Arunachal Pradesh, reached the top twice in a space of 10 days. She became the first woman mountaineer to achieve the feat in one climbing season. Another girl from Arunachal, Tine Mena (25), reached the peak on May 9, two days before Jamsenpa’s first ascent, to become the first woman from the north-eastern state to set foot on top of the world.
Women in uniform also left their mark on Everest this season. Three women officers from Indian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant Nivedita Choudhary, Squadron Leader Nirupama Pandey and Flight Lieutenant Rajika Sharma were the first eves from IAF to do this. Girls from Haryana were not far behind. Sushma Kaushik, a 27-year-old constable with Haryana Police from Panipat reached the peak with husband Vikas and became the youngest couple atop Everest.
“Initially I had to lie to my family while attending climbing courses, but later they supported my dream,” said Sushma. Sunita Singh from Rewari who reached the peak on May 20 was also part of the same team. This season’s feats are likely to encourage more girls, mothers and moms-in-law (Aggarwal is one) from India to rush to Everest.