Grit and a bit of fortune is how Reena Kaushal Dharmshaktu describes her maiden expedition to the South Pole. The first Indian woman to ski to the pole, Reena however emphasises on the larger issue that the entire expedition sought to raise — that of global warming.
Reena, who was part of an eight-member team, says she had to undergo an intensive training programme to prepare for
temperatures close to minus forty. “We skied for seven to eight hours a day, pulling sledges weighing close to sixty kilograms. Our breath created icicles on our face masks. But we ensured that we carried back the garbage. We also were the first team ever to not dump human wastes there,” she says.
Once the team had reached their destination, Reena let awe take over.
“I cannot describe what I felt when we reached the base camp at Antarctica. It is a brilliant place to be in and yet hostile in its own way. A team member developed frostbite within days because of her own sweat. But I am glad I was chosen to be part of an expedition whose sole motive was not to reach South Pole but to carry a larger message.”
The 38-year-old mountaineer spent 38 days skiing on the polar ice cap to raise awareness of environmental issues. Reena, who has previously participated in expeditions to Mount Kailash and the Gangotri glacier, has now set sights on a trip to the North Pole. She lamented the fact that she did not receive any assistance from the government for her path-breaking feat.