dreams are soaring to a record high this year with eight men and
women seeking to conquer Mt Everest with living legend, Nepali
mountaineer Apa Sherpa, who has climbed the world's highest peak
an incredible 20th time and now seeks to best his own record with
a 21st ascent.
This is also the highest number of individuals ever from India to
attempt the prohibitively expensive adventure on their own.
Three women and five men from states as diverse as Jharkhand,
Haryana and Tamil Nadu will seek to summit the 8,848m peak this
summer as part of Eco Everest Expedition 2011.
The remarkable expedition was started by Nepali climber Dawa
Steven Sherpa since 2008 to remove garbage from the august peak.
It became close to Indian hearts last year when one of its
members, 16-year-old Delhi schoolboy Arjun Vajpai, reached the
summit to become India's youngest Everest hero.
Three Indians had attempted the summit with Eco Everest Expedition
2010 and two succeeded. Besides Arjun, Mamata Sodha, a 27-year-old
teacher from Haryana showed the new grit driving Indian climbers,
who have to scramble for sponsors, who remain fixated on cricket.
Among the eight Indians chasing the Everest dream this summer,
Prem Lata Agarwal, a 48-year-old dogged climber from Jharkhand,
has already accomplished the first part of the difficult task.
Asian Trekking, the Kathmandu-based agency that handles the
logistics for the Eco Everest Expeditions, said Agarwal had
already sent the money needed.
Besides climbing gear, an individual mountaineer needs to raise at
least $40,000 to take part in an Everest expedition.
Agarwal showed her mettle in 2008 when she took part in the Indian
women's expedition to Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in
Africa, and was one of the nine climbers to breast the 5,895m
The other two women seeking to take part in the record-breaking
climb are Sushma Mahavir Sharma from Haryana and Sunita Singh from
Four of the men are based in India: Vikash Kaushik and Sultan
Singh, both from Haryana, Thiru Loga Thangran from Tamil Nadu, and
Narendra Singh from north India.
The fifth, Ajay Mulchandani, is a 29-year-old computer wiz from
New Delhi who is currently based in Norwich, Britain.
A project leader for CSC Computer Sciences Corporation,
Mulchandani works for Aviva, a leading insurance company in
"I have decent climbing profession, which includes trekking trips
to all the notable peaks and summits in the Sahyadri Range of
Maharashtra," Mulchandani told IANS.
"My team and I were awarded a certificate for the 'Longest Valley
Crossing in India (Asia) 1,020ft' at the altitude of 3,000 feet,
(which included) the treacherous Lingana Pinnacle, apparently the
toughest natural rock climb in the Sahyadri mountains. The team is
also registered in the Limca Book of Records."
Besides the Everest dream, Mulchandani is also pursuing the
milestone of the Three Peaks' Challenge in Britain, for which he
will have to scale the three highest peaks in England (Scafell
Pike), Scotland (Ben Nevis), and Wales (Snowdon) - within 24
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)