Renowned mountaineers on Karnataka site-seeing trip

Renowned mountaineers on Karnataka site-seeing trip

(From left )Mountaineers Rita Gombu, Chaula Jagirdar, Harshwanti Bisht and Vasumathi Srinivasan in Bengaluru. DH PHOTO/S K DINESH

With years of climbing experience behind them, conquering eight-thousander peaks across the Himalayas, three renowned mountaineers are now making their sixties count.

Ace climbers, Rita Gombu, Harshwanti Bisht and Chaula Jagirdar are in Karnataka to experience the flavours of the state, its culture and people.

“After retirement, I have all the time in the world,” says Rita Gombu, who retired from Air India and continues to do mountaineering. She is the daughter of the world famous twice-atop-Everester, Nawang Gombu, and the grand niece of Tenzing Norgay, who accompanied Edmund Hillary to the summit of Mount Everest in the first successful attempt of 1953. 

Rita, a mountaineer herself, got within 183 metres of the Everest summit in 1984. 

Accompanying Rita is Harshwanti Bisht, the first woman to summit the peak of Nanda Devi (7816 m) in 1981.

A Hillary medal recipient, Harshwanti Bisht founded the Save Gangotri project to rejuvenate the areas ravaged by climate change and unregulated pilgrimage in Uttarakhand.

Having visited Karnataka three times in the past, Harshwanti says she is looking forward to enjoy the architectural wonders at Hampi and Badami. “I have heard a lot about the historical places in Karnataka. I want to visit them soon,” says Harshwanti.  “I also want to see the sprawling coffee plantations of Coorg. Uttarkhand, where I belong, is too cold. This trip is a mere escape.”

Chaula Jagirdar, a trans-Himalayan expeditions record holder, who has 40 Himalayan expeditions to her credit, has joined the site-seeing party as well.

Vasumati Srinivasan, a noted mountaineer from Karnataka, who shares 20 years of friendship with the trio, is to take them to Hampi, Kodagu, Mysore and Badami. This is for the first time the trio have come down to Karnataka together.

Rita, who visited Nandi Hills two years ago, says the trip is a wonderful memory she shares with Vasumathi.

Being a Nepali herself and having a palate for south Indian food, Rita loves her Idlis and Dosas along with the ubiquitous coconut chutney. Praising Karnataka and its culture, the mountaineers say that they love the place for its weather and setting.

Having climbed the Manirang mountain together just last year, Chaula Jagirdar and Rita Gombu are planning smaller treks this year. Ask them where the energy comes from at this age, they reply: “through passion”. “Energy comes automatically through nature’s magic. If you love what you do, you can perform,” says Chaula Jagirdar.

“Most youth today are pampered and are confined to their comfort zones. They should come out and take risks in life,” adds Jagirdar.