“My heart stood still. It dawned on me that success was within reach. And at 1.07 pm on 23 May 1984, I stood on top of Everest, and I was the first Indian woman to have done so,”
– Bachendri Pal
Since 1984, many men and women have achieved the excellence of climbing Mount Everest, but 33 years ago there were none. 33 years ago when women were still encouraged to do household chores only, Bachendri Pal first broke the barrier. She broke the barrier of stereotyping and dared to do something even men did not – to climb the Mount Everest, highest mountain peak in the whole world. Not only she dared, but she also achieved it and gained the title of being the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest. Let us hear out her inspirational story here.
Early Life of Bachendri Pal
Born on 24th May 1954, Bachendri Pal took birth in a small village in Himalaya, present Uttarakhand, named Nakura. She was one of the seven children of Hansa Devi and Sri Kishan Singh Pal. Coincidentally, she born only five days before the first anniversary of the ascension of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. Her father was a grocery shopper. They had many financial issues; Bachendri Pal completed her Bachelor degree and Masters Degree in Sanskrit from D.A.V. Post Graduate College, Dehradun. She completed her B. Ed too, but after that, she decided to take mountaineer as a professional career.
The Life of The Mountaineer, Bachendri Pal
Her story of being a mountaineer traces far back in the childhood when she was only 12 years old. It was her school picnic. And in competition with her friends, she climbed 13, 123 ft high peak without a second thought. This first taste of mountain thrill never left her ever since. Afterward, when she was in college, during her course at NIM, she scaled Mt. Gangotri (21, 900 ft) and Mt. Rudragaria. Shortly after, she was employed by the National Adventure Foundation as an instructor of women who are keen learning mountaineering.
A Step Towards The Dream – Mount Everest
However, the journey of being a mountaineer was never easy for her. She faced strict opposition from her family members. But all those oppositions fell deaf on her ear as soon as she got success in her field. And after summiting many smaller peaks, she was finally being called to join the mixed-gender expedition to Mount Everest in 1984.
This was the fourth expedition to Mount Everest. In her group, there were six women and 11 men. Firstly, Bachendri Pal flew to Kathmandu with her team and from there; they started their journey of achieving the impossible. Exciting as it may sound, but the journey was not easy. Half of the team members left the summit when an avalanche buried their camp. But Bachendri was determined to achieve this. On 22nd May 1984, Bachendri Pal and some other male member of the previous group agreed to go on with this expedition. She was the only female member. After a day of constant struggling with the height and snow, they finally reached the Mount Everest.
Being the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest did not put her journey to rest. She had led many expeditions successfully afterward such as “Indo-Nepalese Women’s Mount Everest Expedition, 1993”, “The Great Indian Women’s Rafting Voyage 1994” etc. For her incredible achievement, Bachendri Pal received Padma Shri in 1984. Apart from that, she also received tons of other medals. She made her name in the Guinness book as well. She also wrote a book, covering her experience of scaling Mount Everest named “Everest – My Journey to the Top.”
The 63 years old Bachendri Pal is an inspiration to all the men and women who are afraid to achieve the impossible. Not only that she has created history, but she has also set a milestone too – “Never accept defeat.”
Written By: Subharthi Bhattacharya