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35-year-old attempts to become first woman from Maharashtra to scale Mt Fuji

Harshali Vartak, a former insurance agent from Vasai, says few women attempt to scale peaks, and she wants to send a message to all Indian women to have courage and take to climbing without fear.

mumbai Updated: Sep 04, 2018 08:10 IST
Ram Parmar
Ram Parmar
Hindustan Times, Palghar
Harshali Vartak,Mumbai woman,Vasai Woman
Harshali Vartak will be joined by eight other trekkers in their attempt to scale Mount Fuji, an active volcano in Japan.

A 35-year-old from Vasai will, on Wednesday, attempt to become the first woman from Maharashtra to scale the 3,776m-high Mount Fuji in Japan.

Harshali Vartak, a former insurance agent from Vasai, will be joined by eight other trekkers in their attempt to scale Mount Fuji, an active volcano around 12,390 feet high. Mount Fuji’s last eruption was in 1707.

The five-day trek will be from September 5-9. The trekkers plan to climb for two days, before descending on the last three days.

Vartak’s 9-member team will be led by retired Colonel Niraj Vora, 50. “The rest of my colleagues are from Chennai, Gurgaon and other areas of the country,and I am the only woman climber to join the team and that is a challenge. We underwent months of training at various peaks in the Himalayas a month ago, before we undertook the Mount Fuji trip,” Vartak said.

Asked why she chose Mount Fuji, Vartak said, “My inspiration is Bachendri Pal, who was the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest in 1984 and I am following in her footsteps”. She added that few women attempt to scale peaks, and she wants to send a message to all Indian women to have courage and take to climbing without fear.

As climbers are not allowed to carry mountaineering gear in international flights, Vartak will be hiring the equipment from Tokyo. The total cost of the trip, including tickets, lodging and the trek, is Rs3 lakh per head.

Meanwhile, the Vasai Virar City Municipal Corporation (VVMC) has agreed to partially bear the expedition’s cost.

“We are proud to be associated with Harshali as she has made India and Vasai proud,” said VVMC mayor Rupesh Jadhav. “The VVMC on our part will be helping her by providing part financial assistance as such expeditions are an expensive project. We appreciate her trek to Mt Fuji, which is not easy as her team will be facing extreme cold.”

On Monday, Jadhav handed over the VVMC flag to Vartak and wished her luck for the expedition.

Vartak, who has completed a course in mountaineering, is an active member of the Vasai Adventure Club and has undertook trekking activities in the Sahyadris and Himachal areas. “The Youth Hostels India (YHI) provided me with an opportunity to scale the Himalayan Range in November 2009 and since then there was no looking back”.

First Published: Sep 04, 2018 07:31 IST