The South Pole -- not really an ideal holiday destination, especially when you are skiing all the way to it. This is not a Ripley's ‘Believe It Or Not’ gimmick. It's an all-woman expedition into the arid wastes of the snow-bound bottom of the Earth -- and India has a representative.
Reena Kaushal Dharamshaktu will be part of an eight-member team that will ski to the South Pole to celebrate the 60th year of the Commonwealth. Initially part of a 16-member shortlist selected by Felicity Aston, a renowned adventurer from London and the leader of this expedition, Dharamshaktu made it to the final eight after a two-week evaluation camp in Norway.
“It was a perfect trailer for this expedition. The temperatures continued to fluctuate from minus seven to minus 20 degrees. Since there could only be one woman from each country, the first week was spent in short listing eight. During the second week we worked on our skiing and bonded with each other,” she said, looking forward to being the first woman skier from India to manage the feat.
But the ordeal has not ended since her return from Norway in April. Five months on, Dharamshaktu is still searching for a sponsor.
“The trip to Norway was sponsored by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and I am grateful to them. But I am yet to find any sponsor for the expedition. I have applied for a loan. But a sponsor would be a lifesaver,” she said.
In the meantime, she will be leaving for a 10-day training camp in New Zealand on borrowed money.
“The director of sports for the Delhi government said that 'Adventure Sports' don't come under any category, so he backed out. I also met Sports Minister M.S. Gill and am waiting for his response. I got a positive response from Jayati Chandra, secretary, Department of Youth Affairs and I hope they can be of some help," she said.
The Queen of England will flag off the expedition in the first week of November. Till then, hope and a dream fuel Dharamshaktu's quest.