No mountain too high for vegan mountaineer Prakriti Varshney | Travel - Hindustan Times
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No mountain too high for vegan mountaineer Prakriti Varshney

ByAbigail Banerji
Jun 02, 2022 03:59 PM IST

This 26-year-old is first Indian female vegan to ascend the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest

Prakriti Varshney is the first Indian female vegan to ascend the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest, on May 12. Only having returned to Manali, India a few days back this ardent mountaineer is also already planning her next climb.

Prakriti Varshney
Prakriti Varshney

Varshney is a solo traveller and passionate about mountain climbing and going on treks. She blogs about her experiences and shares it with her audience on social media as well. “I didn’t like city life. I left my job to travel. And eventually, I ended up finding a place (Manali) where felt like I belonged,” she says.

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Adding, “I always wanted to climb Mount Everest, but since I come from a middle-class family, I knew that I couldn’t afford the cost. So, I dropped that idea.”

Prakriti Varshney at the summit of Mount Everest with the Indian National flag
Prakriti Varshney at the summit of Mount Everest with the Indian National flag

It was only last year that she felt she was ready to take the plunge. A 26-year-old climber trained for five months, climbed several mountains in Manali and even did a mountaineering course in Uttarkashi.

“I wanted to be sure before went for it [climbing mount Everest], because I’m going to put a lot of money into it. I had to successfully do it. So I practiced a lot. I climbed about eight mountains.”

While she was hoping to get sponsored for her trip, that did not happen. So, she crowdfunded her expedition, pooled in her own resources, took out a loan.

“People usually say that Everest is not the most technical thing [climb] you will do like as a mountaineer. I climbed Ama Dablam in Nepal just before I did Everest which is one of the most technical mountains across the Himalayas. I actually felt [in comparison] Everest was easy.”

Varshney has been a vegan for five years and ask her if it affected her training or her climb, she says no. “A lot of people said that if you stay vegan, you will not be able to train because you will be low on strength, vitamins and nutrition or that you will lag on treks. I planned my diet according to the training I was doing and I think I was much stronger than anybody in my group altogether.”

Throughout the climb she ate “Sherpa food” which consists of dal chawal, roti sabji.

Reaching the summit of Everest was “unreal” says Varshney. “It was my dream board when I 15. When we reached on top, I actually asked my Sherpa, Mingma Dorje, to tell me that I has reached. It was like reaching the top of the world. Even now, if I still feel that it was a dream before I was going and now it’s a dream that I have done it.”

How did her parents react to this feat? She says, “At first they were skeptical but they were also very supportive and I’ve been doing very unconventional things according to the society we live in. They always said that if you feel some strong connection, and you have to do it, then go do it. They did not say no. They just had a lot of questions. When I got back, especially my dad, he said I knew that you would do it.”

Now that she has completed her dream, ask her what is her next climb and she proudly says Manaslu, which is the eighth-highest mountain in the world and part of the Nepalese Himalayas, in September.

On a parting note, Varshney word of advice to anyone who wants to start climbing or aspires to make it to the top of Mount Everest is, “train really hard, especially if you want to climb Everest. Only go when you have past experiences climbing mountain. And if you don’t have, then start now. You can climb the Indian Himalayas and then move on.”

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