I am always fascinated with Mount Everest. When I had gone to Nepal, got to see Mount Everest through Mountain flight. So, my trip brought me close to the highest peak of the world. Soon after that a  TV serial named ‘Everest’ started. I used to regularly follow it. I never missed an episode of the same. The serial brought me closer to the peak. I came to know little bit about challenges of climbing Mount Everest. The emotions  that a climber goes through and how Everest tests them. Truly The SagarMatha ( Nepali name of Mount Everest) calls only a few. The third instance that made me think again about Mt. Everest was when I read on Facebook that the mountaineer Sangeeta S Bahl is planning to climb the world’s highest peak in April-May 2017, I wanted to talk to her. Good that she was available for the discussion and I was so glad that I got a chance to speak to her! I wanted to know a lot about Sangeeta S Bahl that made her ‘Sangeeta S Bahl’. When I had an interaction with her, I was totally inspired and positive. So, here is the snippet of my interaction with Sangeeta S Bahl, the ‘to be’ Everest Climber. Sangeeta is planning to climb Everest in April-May, 2017. 

Sangeeta S Bahl , The Mountaineer

Sangeeta S Bahl , The Mountaineer



My interaction with Sangeeta S Bahl, the mountaineer

Q1.) What was the inspiration of first trek?

First trek was of a pilgrimage that happened immediately after my baby.  Manisha Mahesh in Himachal is a pilgrimage that takes 14,500 ft. to climb.  We took only 3 days. It was a quick trek for us. There is a lake at Manisha Mahesh
Second trek happened when my husband was turning 50 and wanted to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in South Africa. His brother was supposed to go with him but he had to miss it due to some reason. So my husband gave me the offer. I asked him what needs to be done to trek. My husband said you have to be fit. So I lost weight and did cardio. So, I started getting trained.  Four months later I climbed the 19,341 ft. in 8 days. At that time I was 47 years old. Camp for the last base was at Karafu camp. We climbed for 11 hrs and came back in 6 hours. Mountains are sacred and one shouldnt be there for a long time. Pay a sacred and come down quickly. When we reached the top, it was snowing. The beauty of mountain is that the base has desert all over. The top snows. At the top there was white out and extremely cold. Hard to believe that I was at the top. The thing that I noticed was that I was able to climb up without difficulty. Only I was tired and nothing else bad happened.

When we saw Mt. Kilimanjaro from aeroplane , I couldn’t believe that I climbed the same mountain. I firmly believe that no age is a barrier. Whatever you wish for is possible irrespective of your age. Possibilities in this world are limitless. We just have to tap them.

We had become the first Indian climbing couple to Kilimanjaro.

We decided to do  7  summits on 7 peaks in 7 continents. So we decided to get trained in Darjeeling, the Mountaineering Institute. They refused as they don’t take people above 40 years of age. So, we started looking at someone to train. So, I searched and searched and finally found one person who had done 7 summits. We were to go through technical training. We went to US and got trained in Seattle climbed to Mt. Rainier. Then we did 12 days training in Manali. How to deal in avalanches or if you get stuck.

We were to do seven summits in next five years. We summited Mt. Elbrus in Europe at 18,500 ft. in July 2013.

I became the third Indian woman to reach. Mt. Vinson in January 2014 in Antarctica.

Q2.) What are the challenges  you face during trekking?

In 2014 , June, I was to summit Mt. McKinley in Alaska. I had to carry 30 kilos on back and 30 kg on sledge. The height of the mountain was 20,120ft . I climbed uptill 19,000ft and my feet felt numb. Someone in our team had lost his fingers after his hands got numb. So I went back to 17,200 camp. The rest of the team summitted and came back to the last base camp. While retreating, I got stuck with my right knee under the snow at 16,000ft.

I walked down. I was in pain and had tablet. But slumped. My knee became elephant big. When they checked me at the base camp, I was told that I had torn ACL or BCL. Authorities don’t rescue unless you are blind/ broken/dead.

By God’s grace 4 people put me on sledge and wrapped in my sleeping bag and took me to the base camp. Finally came back home. Upon reaching home I got operated. My leg was stiff after operation but better with physiotherapy in 4.5 months.

I started doing little walks. After 5 months of operation I went for review and the doctor told me – “you have such a strong will power, you will climb the mountain irrespective of your leg’s condition. ” Although the doctor had advised not to climb for nine months after operation but  I climbed in the sixth month after my operation. I climbed 23,000 ft and summitted the mountain with Indian flag. Although I walked up with braces.

Safety is my concern so we ensure we trek with fool proof techniques and highly experienced guides. Generally I am with Americans. When I am climbing with 6 footers. They climb faster and I have to carry same 30 kilos. I have to almost run to match up with them so my heart beats faster comparatively. So, I keep training myself on thge ground to better cope up.

Food irrespective of whether its tasty or no, you have to consume it to remain though on energy. Each day you have to be better and be calm, introspect.

Even though I was not climbing Everest but in 2015, I officially opened a company for women. Took women them to Himachal, Manali to greater heights. Impact mountaineering happened then.

2016 I did my treks. Stok kangri, Lobuche, Island peak in Nepal. Australia’s highest peak- Mt. Kosciuszko.

So whatever challenging situation I face, I try to overcome with best of my efforts.

Q3.) What gives you energy to carry on and be positive always?

I remain focussed towards my goal and do not let myself drift from it. Secondly I surround myself with people who give me positive vibes. In my tough times, my wellwishers surrounded me and I only used to be with them. They would come over, help me and we used to chat for long hours. I got energy and positivity. Main energy has to come from within.

Q4.) What is the message you want to give to women in India who face challenges in personal and professional life?

Indian women have to have mental and emotional strength. She has a lot of strength and are not using. Age is not a barriers to success. You can learn anytime and do anything. I say NO irrespective of the fact if its not resonating with family. My focus remains. I don’t let anything stop me from my line of focus.

Stay enthusiastic about life! Always harness your mind that your goal is achievable and can realize. Stay in present. Let that not be on your back feet.  I want people to accumulate experience and not material.

Thank you Ms. Sangeeta S Bahl for your time. Our best wishes are always with you for any endeavours of life! Looking forward to another interaction after your summit at Mt. Everest. All the best! Also, looking forward to do beginners trek with ‘Impact mountaineering’

Nidhi KM