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Making molehills out of mountains

Bimla Negi Deoskar, who has a record of conquering every peak that beckons her, has just conquered the 23,212-feet-high Satopanth peak in the Garhwal region with an all-women 8-member team, Vimal Chander Joshi reports.
By Vimal Chander Joshi | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2008 12:41 AM IST

I am a born mountaineer and can feel the mountains inviting me,” says Bimla Negi Deoskar, who has a commendable record of conquering every peak that beckons her.

Deoskar has many such conquests under her belt, including Mount Everest. The latest addition to this list is the 23,212-feet-high Satopanth peak in the Garhwal region, which she climbed with an all-women eight-member team.

After returning to Delhi on Monday, she was on a high for making the team complete the journey within the expected time.

Satopanth is infamous for its treacherous path. “Miles ahead of the summit, there is a sharp ridge of around 1,500 m which is extremely difficult. We had to tighten the ropes deftly to reach the summit,” she says.

When they had embarked on their mission, they expected the weather to be favourable by mid-day. But nature had other plans. Unexpected showers hit the mountains, aggravating the situation with each advancing step.

They finally managed to reach the summit on June 27 and set a new record — eight women climbers from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation had reached the peak. “Our journey back wasn’t easy either. One of our members, Laxmi Kandiyal, fell ill, but we had a doctor in our team and the crisis was somehow defused,” she says.

The homeward journey went further awry as four of them had to battle snow blindness.

These impediments stood no chance, thanks to the team spirit, which Deoskar had instilled in all. Apart from the members, local sherpas were of great help without whom, she says, the expedition couldn’t have been a success. But, isn’t it tough for women to achieve such goals? “I have never faced any discrimination. Your potential and courage determines your achievement, not your sex,” says Deoskar.

She finds a robust support system at home in husband Avinash Deoskar, also a mountaineer. They had met when they worked for the Tata Adventure Foundation in Jamshedpur. Her adventurous life reached a “high” immediately after her marriage. She went on to climb the Everest within a month of their marriage on October 4, 1992. “I conquered Everest along with 15 others in 1993 and were awarded National Adventure Award.”

After tying the knot, Deoskar settled down in Nagpur and set up the Nagpur Centre of Outward Bound Bharat, which is an international adventure sport organisation.

“We reach great heights and make our country proud. But after we return, no one praises that, nor are we given any recognition unlike in other sports,” she laments. No wonder, she expects her 14-year-old son Kunal to become a NASA scientist instead.

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