Twelve years ago, when Goregaon resident Prachi Gole-Taneja signed up for a basic mountaineering course at Manali to enjoy the snow and get away from sweltering Mumbai heat, she had no idea she would scale Mount Everest one day.
On May 26, Captain Prachi Gole-Taneja, 28, successfully scaled the Everest, the highest peak in the world at 8,848 meters above sea level. She was part of the Indian Army Women Everest Expedition 2012, the first ever all-women team to achieve the feat from the Nepal side, the traditional, but tougher route.
In 2005, through the first Everest expedition with women army officers, two women had reached the peak from the Tibet side.
“I was on the top of the world and we had 100% success rate with no casualty or injuries. Only when Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) wishes to see you, can you do it,” said an excited Gole-Taneja, from Kathmandu where she is enjoying a break with the other team members.
In May, six deaths were reported from other expeditions due to rough weather.
In all, 21 members, including support staff such as sherpas and technical staff, had accompanied the seven women officers.
Gole-Taneja was the first one from her family, full of doctors and engineers, to join the army or attempt anything adventurous.
After initial apprehension, they are proud and relieved at the same time about her feat.
“I used to be very scared to watch the Mt. Everest videos, which she would watch at home. I knew it is a matter of life and death out there. Now that she has conquered it, I want to see them. I could not have asked for more in life,” said Surekha Gole, her mother, a pre-primary school principal, who is in the US at present.
“Our mother always taught us to get some title in front of our names and not just be a Mrs. I didn’t have any academic ambitions, but did well in the National Cadet Corps in college. That’s why I decided to join the army,” said Gole-Taneja, who completed her training from Chennai in 2007 and is currently posted in Kashmir.