Bachendri Pal is now imparting lessons in mountaineering to corporate executives and students

Preparing corporate leaders through trekking expeditions is what legendary mountaineer Bachendri Pal is busy doing these days.

The first Indian women who climbed Mount Everest is moulding young graduates, management students and middle-level executives through her rigorous Himalayan trekking programmes that incorporates not just trekking but a host of other adventure activities including rock climbing, rafting and camping.

Ms. Pal, an avid nature-lover, now heads Tata Group's Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TASF) located at Jamshedpur, but her heart belongs to the Himalayas. She never misses a chance to indulge in her passion – trekking – and be amidst nature. “The trekking programme systematically extends mental, emotional and physical tolerance limits of individuals, thereby helping him to appreciate efforts of others. It helps in building team spirit and improved risk-taking abilities, leadership and decision-making skills,” Ms. Pal says.

TASF has established a base camp at Kalyani on the banks of Asi Ganga, 14 km upstream from Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand, from where Ms. Pal conducts adventure programmes twice a year – from April to June and from September to October. The programme usually begins with training in camping skills, rock climbing and rafting, but participants faces challenges when they undertake about a 10-km trek to beautiful Dayara Bugyal (meadows) in a group after scaling a height of over 12,000 feet with two night halts in sub-zero temperatures. And if a trekker has more zeal left, he moves forward further ahead to Surya Top that offers breathtaking views of upper Himalayan ranges and peaks like Bandarpoonch and Dropdi-ka-Danda.

Age no bar

Now nearing 60, Ms. Pal has group leaders who assist in her programmes. They include her younger brother Raju Pal who is all set to undertake his maiden trek to Mount Everest and Premlata Agarwal, a mother of two daughters who became the oldest Indian women to scale the world's highest peak at the age of 45 last year. For both of them Ms. Pal is the great source of motivation.

Ms. Pal, who always leads from the front, is also a tough taskmaster. She makes participants test their limits. Her message is loud and clear -- “We are here not for a picnic…we are in the majestic Himalayas to enjoy every moment that nature has to offer us. It is not just about trekking but to make people understand what life is all about. Himalaya is not only the highest mountain system in the world, but also an endless source of inspiration, learning, healing and purifying.”

Ms. Pal, who strongly believes that undertaking a trek as a group is similar to running a company, has chalked out the entire programme in such a way where certain goals need to be achieved in a given timeframe and under limited resources. “We make people realise how resources and energy should be used optimally. Your skills for people management and contingencies are tested…It is very much like running a company but in a different environment,” she points out.

For the past several years, Ms. Pal has helped and motivated a large number of young graduates from almost all Tata Group companies to successfully complete their trekking expeditions. And now other corporates and students are also flocking to her institution to be part of what is called a “lifetime experience” or a “soul searching” journey.

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