May 22, 2013

NEPAL: Arunima Sinha From India Made History By Becoming The First Female Amputee To Climb Mount Everest. Kudos To Her :)

The Wall Street Journal
written by Aditi Malhotra
Wednesday May 22, 2013

Almost two years to the day since a moving train severed Arunima Sinha’s left leg just below the knee, the 26-year-old Indian arrived at Everest base camp ready to climb the world’s highest mountain.

On Tuesday morning just before 11 o’clock she became the first female amputee to reach the summit.

Ms. Sinha, who has a prosthetic leg, took nearly 17 hours to scale the mountain after spending about two months acclimatizing and going on treks in northern India and Nepal to prepare for the ascent.

“She was definitely slow because of her physical condition. But her mental strength and stamina was extraordinary,” said Dawa Sherpa, the general manager at Asian Trekking, a Nepal-based company that organized her expedition.

Three Sherpas from Asian Trekking helped her reach the top.

Ms. Sinha, who is from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, lost her leg on April 11, 2011, when thieves allegedly pushed her onto the track from her train carriage.

She was traveling from Lucknow to Delhi to sign up for the Central Industrial Security Force, a state-run security force, when thieves attempted to snatch her necklace and purse, according to her brother Rahul Sinha.

Ms. Sinha was still in hospital recovering from her injuries when she resolved to climb the 8,848 meter mountain, according to Om Prakash, a close relative of the Sinha family.

“She was determined to not allow the world to pity her after the tragedy. She wanted to prove herself. She wanted to accomplish this feat and all we did was support her,” said Mr. Prakash.

Professor M.C. Misra, who heads the Department of Surgical Disciplines at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences, the largest state-run hospital in India, where Ms. Sinha was brought to soon after her accident, said that her left leg had already been amputated below the knee at a local hospital when she reached the hospital in Delhi.

“While she was recovering in hospital, she was sure she is not going to sit idle and in less than two years of being discharged, she has reached great heights,” Mr. Misra said.

Later that year, Ms. Sinha got in touch with Bachendri Pal, who was the first Indian woman to climb Everest in 1984.

Ms. Pal, who currently heads the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation, an initiative led by Tata Steel Ltd. based in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, trained Ms. Sinha and gave her her life back, said Pervez Feroz Kapadia, who is the secretary at the foundation. Her achievement comes 15 years after the first male amputee made it to the top of Everest. Tom Whittaker from the U.K., who lost his foot in a car accident, reached the summit in May 1998.

Neither Ms. Sinha nor Ms. Pal could immediately be reached for comment.

Susan Hunt, a 55-year-old sports marketer who climbed the summit in May 2011, said it’s a great achievement for an amputee to scale Everest successfully.

“I have two legs, two arms, there is nothing wrong with me and I was beyond exhausted after 12 hours of climbing the summit and another eight of descent,” said Ms. Hunt.

Since the body is not designed to live at such a high altitude, Ms. Hunt said, climbing the summit is something that requires enormous resilience.

“Every day you need to mentally fortify yourself to overcome the apprehension of the unknown,” said Ms. Hunt.

Ms. Sinha has not only conquered her disability but also the world of mountaineering, she added.

Ms. Sinha’s family is still waiting to hear from her after she returns from the Everest region to Kathmandu. Her brother said she has made her family proud. “We had only hoped to see this day and she has made dreams come true,” he said.

The “fair window season” in the Everest region this year, the peak climbing period for those who are attempting to conquer the summit, began on May 18 and is set to run until May 25.

The week has already seen a remarkable number of records being set by climbers from all over the world.

And India’s performance in the record haul has not disappointed. As well as Ms. Sinha’s record, Tashi and Nancy Malik, the 21-year-old twin sisters, from the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, became the first ever set of twins to reach the peak at the same time.

A team of six from a boarding school in Sanawar, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, set the record for being the youngest team to reach the summit.

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