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All Indian women team training for Everest 2005
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Agu 17, 2004 04: 09 EST
The first ever all-women Indian expedition to Everest is planned to be launched next year by the Indian Army. More than 100 women in uniform had volunteered for the expedition and the 24 member team will be chosen from them. Though Indian women have climbed Everest in mixed expeditions, this is the first time that an all Indian women team will be making a bid for the peak.

7000+ Preparation climb this month

Well last Thursday, a 27-member army women's team set out to climb the 7,756-meter Mount Kamet, the third highest peak in India, on their pre-Everest preparations. The mission is to test the physical and mental strength and assess the capabilities of the team. The team, including 11 girl National Cadet Corps members, are expected to reach the summit in September.

Close brush with death for Indian woman pioneer

On May 17, 1984, Bachendri Pal was the first Indian woman on top of Everest after an avalanche nearly killed her and her climbing group at 24,000 feet. This year, Bachendri was leading a 10-member women’s team to Island Peak.

In 1993 Santosh Yadav became the first woman to climb Mt Everest twice, in the Indo-Nepalese all-women's Everest expedition.

The amazing Sherpani's

In 2000 an all Sherpani (Sherpa women) team ascended Everest. The expedition leader, Lhakpa Sherpa, who was 27 at the time, became the second Sherpa woman to summit Everest on May 18th of that year. Since then, Lhakpa has summited Everest four times. Last year she reached the top last spring with her younger sister, Kipa Sherpa, 15, who became the youngest person to summit Everest ever.

First Navy Everest expedition started out in a sub

This spring, an Indian Navy expedition became the first navy in the world to conquer Mt Everest. The Indian Navy team kicked off their expedition in early March off the coast of Goa in a Russian EKM submarine, 250 ft below the surface, with the defense minister of India in attendance to flag the team.

"Shape up, India!" barked the Commander

Commander Satyabrata Dam was leading the 14 member expedition on Everest’s North side. Shortly after the expedition, the Commander made headlines: "When cricket captain Sourav Ganguly sneezes or actress Aishwarya Rai breaks her ankle, that's news for India, not the conquest of the highest point on earth," he lamented to the Indian press:

"Of the 14-member team, nine climbers attempted the summit and five succeeded, the first three reaching the top May 18 and the remaining two, including Dam, May 19. But the feat means nothing to Indians. The national obsession with sports like cricket and football is costing the country dear in other areas."

"By nature, Indians are not very adventure-oriented. Parents would prefer children cramming for exams to climbing mountains!"

Cost of Everest at least Rs.8 million

Lack of money is another reason that has prevented Indian mountaineers from becoming living legends like Italian Reinhold Messner or Austrian Peter Habeler, two Everest climbers who reached the summit without bottled oxygen.

"Equipment and training is expensive, a small peak alone costs about Rs.500,000-600,000 while Everest would require at least Rs.8 million to Rs.10 million," informed Satyabrata Dam.

"Indian climbers need serious funding from the ministry of sports instead of having it wasted on some other trivial sport. Since mountaineering, despite building team spirit, is not a competitive sport, there are no eye-catching tourneys to promote it unlike the World Cup for football and cricket."

Everest climber selected for Olympic Torch

India heard the Commander. Shortly after, the Indian Everest climber Santosh Yadav carried the Olympic Flame in front of the 16th century Tomb of Humayun in New Delhi. After Australia, Japan, Korea and China, the flame was being carried through India as part of a worldwide tour that ended with the lighting ceremony at the main Athens Olympic stadium on August 13.

Image of the Everest 2000 all-Sherpani team courtesy of hindu.com
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