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Updated: January 21, 2013 21:15 IST

Scaling new heights

PREETI ZACHARIAH
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Neha Bhatnagar
Neha Bhatnagar

Neha Bhatnagar talks about conquering the Everest

Climbing Mount Everest must make one feel on top of the world—literally. Neha Bhatnagar, one of the female officers who scaled this peak as part of a programme titled Everest: Indian Army’s Women Expedition produced by the Discovery Channel certainly agrees, “This trip was a very special one,” she says over the phone. “There was a lot of hardship involved but it is very dear to my heart.”

She, with six other women officers trained and prepared for this climb for almost a year. Nevertheless it was no cakewalk. They spent 45 days in the mountains, camping on the frozen soil in their quest to conquer the tallest peak in the world. “We spent nights praying that our tent wouldn’t blow off, that we wouldn’t blow off. Sometimes the slope was nearly 80 degrees — almost vertical. It was a very difficult climb. The final climb was the hardest. The trail was so narrow that I could not my feet together side by side. We had to put one foot at a time. We climbed through the night. We started at 8 p.m. and reached by 5:43 a.m. on May 26.”

Yet the climb was certainly worth it. “When we reached the sun had just risen. Bright orange rays illuminated the Tibetan plateau below and the clouds were so low that you could almost touch them. I’ve always dreamt of reaching the pinnacle of the earth at sunrise and for me this dream came true.”

Neha attributes her training in the Army to her being able to achieve this dream. “The Army made me what I am today. It offered me the best of training and wonderful opportunities. I am more physically fit, more disciplined, more mission-oriented and mentally strong because of it. I learnt to have a supreme level of professional commitment to my duties and that gave me the strength I needed to keep going even when I was aching and tired. My climb is not just a statement to women but to the nation. I know now that there are no limits to human capabilities. I want to continue to experiment and explore myself. I want to climb every peak in the world. “

Everest: Indian Army Women’s Expedition will air on Discovery Channel on January 25 at 9 p.m. with a repeat on January 26 at 9 p.m.

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