Pranay Bordoloi, first Assamese selected for expedition

Rongali Bihu, which heralds the arrival of the spring season and beginning of a new Assamese calendar year, will be very special this April for the people of the State. Pranay Bordoloi, first Assamese selected for an expedition to Mount Everest, left the city for Kathmandu, carrying with him a traditional gamocha, which he plans to wave from the world's highest peak to take Bihu festivities to the top of the world. He is also taking with him Nama-ghosha, a book of hymns of the Assamese Vaishnavism, composed by Madhavadeva. Forty-eight-year-old Bordoloi, a senior journalist and executive editor of a local television news channel DY 365, veteran mountaineer and adventure sportsperson, has been selected for the 12-member International Mount Everest Expedition 2012.

Mr. Bordoloi is also carrying with him worries of repaying a huge loan he has taken to meet part of the expedition cost. He has put in Rs 6.5 lakh from his own savings, while friends and well-wishers have chipped in with some amount. The total budget requirement for each member is about Rs 15 lakh that includes an expedition package cost of Rs 12.30 lakh; Rs. 2 lakh towards climbing personal gear, and a summit bonus of Rs. 28,000 to a climbing Sherpa.

Pittance of an offer

Mr. Bordoloi refused to accept a token offer of Rs 25,000 made by the Assam government. “I approached Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for financial assistance… I expected to receive financial assistance of Rs 4 to 5 lakh. However, the government offered only Rs. 25,000. I felt hurt and I refused to accept the amount. I hope that the Assam government would not be so insensitive to future mountaineers from the State,” he told The Hindu before leaving for Kathmandu.

Passion since 1980s

A member of the Northeast Adventure Foundation, Mr. Bordoloi has been nurturing the dream of scaling the 29028-foot Mount Everest since the 1980s. His passion for mountaineering was ignited by the dream of the first woman mountaineer, Nasim Akhtar, who passed away in November 2011, to see someone from Assam making it to the world's highest peak. He led an expedition of the Explorers, an adventure sports initiative of Assam to Jogin I (21335 feet) and Jogin-3 (20300 feet) peaks of the Himalayas in 1995. The thrilling experience of this expedition, recorded in writing by Mr. Bordoloi, now forms part of the Modern Indian Language textbook for the higher secondary first-year stream in Assam.

“I will give my hundred per cent to live the dream of Nasim Baidew who initiated the Northeast Everest Expedition, and emulate the feat of Anshu Jamsenpa of Arunachal Pradesh in scaling the Everest twice in a span of just 10 days in 2011,” he said.

Mr. Bordoloi, author of two books on Himalayan expeditions, will be in Kathmandu over the next three days to buy the climbing gears and accessories before setting out on the nearly two-month expedition.