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On top of the world and back

Madhur Tankha
Binita Soren, Rajendra Singh Pal and Meghlal Mahato interacting with the media in New Delhi on Friday after their successful trip to Mount Everest. Photo: S. Subramanium

The expedition took off on March 25 from Jiri in Nepal and after an arduous journey of two months the triumvirate finally climbed the peak on May 26.

Scaling Mount Everest is fraught with danger and there is threat to life at every step. Three climbers from Jharkhand who accomplished their mission on May 26 this year luckily had veteran Everest climber Bachendri Pal to guide and motivate them when they went out to conquer the world's highest peak.

The trio include 53-year-old Rajendra Singh Pal, younger brother of Bachendri. The other two were Binita Soren and Meghlal Mahato, who despite coming from a humble background had a steely determination to climb Everest. The expedition took off on March 25 from Jiri in Nepal and after an arduous journey of two months the triumvirate finally climbed the peak on May 26.

For Rajendra, the expedition was similar to retracing the path of his sister's journey in 1984 when she became the first Indian woman to scale Everest.

During his early years, Rajendra detested mountaineering. He started scaling the mountains as a professional quite late in life. “Being a pahari, climbing mountains came naturally to me. I used to watch with exasperation as climbers faced difficulties like holding on to the ropes. For me all this was child's play. I was not serious about adventure sports. But after undertaking a technical course at Mount Abu my interest in this physical endurance sport developed,” he said.

Describing Bachendri as his role model, Rajendra said she never compelled him to become a professional mountaineer. Nor did she coax him into climbing Everest. “However, Didi was there at every stage during the run-up to the event. She even started off with us. My wife and two children wholeheartedly supported me. Initially I was apprehensive whether I would be able to scale Everest because I have high blood pressure. But I took medicines while climbing and drank plenty of hot water as advised by Didi. This was necessary because some climbers from a recent expedition got so exhausted scaling Everest that they had no energy left to go down. A sherpa can only carry load but he cannot lift a climber.”

Unlike his younger co-climbers who scaled Mount Aconcagua in Argentina as a sort of “preparation for the big climb”, he had conquered small peaks located in the country.

“It was an emotional journey for me. I was in a good mood and a positive frame of mind. I even lifted my own tent and heavy material during the ascent,” said Rajendra, an employee at Tata Steel Adventure Foundation.

Attributing her success to Bachendri, 25-year-old Binita said life has been full of struggles but all the difficulties faced in life were erased from her mind when she climbed the world's highest peak. “Coming from a rural background, it was not easy to fulfil my dream of conquering Everest. I had to go through a lot of hardship in life. However, all my difficult days were forgotten when I climbed Everest. It was an exhilarating experience but quite risky at times. Inclement weather bothered us,” she said.

The trio developed team spirit and saw the positive consequence of this bond. They succeeded in battling high-altitude mountain sickness, crossing a crevasse and not getting disheartened that they may not make it to the top.



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