Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest in 1984, will lead a 10-member team of women, aged above 50 in a five-month long expedition from eastern to western Himalaya.
Known as ‘FIT@50 Women’s Trans Himalayan Expedition ’21’, the expedition will begin in May from Arunachal Pradesh as its starting point. The women will then cover around 4,500 kilometres across about 40 mountain passes, including the 17,320 feet Lamkhaga Pass, one of the toughest which connects Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh with Harshil in Uttarakhand.
The expedition, organised by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports under the FIT India banner, will go on until the second week of October at the Karakoram range of Jammu and Kashmir.
"The expedition will inspire and motivate women of all age groups to include fitness activities in their daily lives to stay healthy," Pal told a media outlet.
Pal is widely known for her pioneering role in planning and leading some of the world’s most path-breaking expeditions for women.
"In the pandemic era, women’s health and fitness plays a key role both in the families and towards nation building. The expedition will provide hope and create a new path for senior citizens, including 50 or even 60, to pursue their dreams. It will also signify women empowerment," she added.
The team members comprise women from all walks of life including three women Everest summiteers, retired professionals, and homemakers.
The expedition will begin at Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh, and then will enter Bhutan, cross over into Sikkim, and cover Chitrey, Kala Pokhari and Sandakphu. Thereafter, it will move to Nepal, where the route enters Dhaulagiri range and covers Salpa Pass, Lamjura Pass, and also Thorong la (17,769 ft) around Annapurna Massif. From western Nepal, the trail goes from Jumla and enters Kumaon district in Uttarakhand at Dharchula. After this, the team will cover Lamkhaga Pass (17,320 ft) — one of the toughest passes.
The last leg will traverse through Himachal Pradesh, and will trek through Spiti to cross Kaza, Kibber and cross Parang La. It will end in the Leh-Ladakh region, where the team will cross Khardungla (18,380 ft), Saser La (17,753 ft), Depsang La (17,869 ft) and finish at Karakoram Pass (18,175 ft).
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)