First set of IAF women scale Mount Everest

Flight Lieutenant Nivedita Choudhary had scaled the Everest on May 21, while Squadron Leader Nirupama Pandey and Flight Lieutenant Rajika Sharma reached the 8,848 metre summit Wednesday, becoming the first three women IAF officers to have achieved the feat.

"It is first time in the history of IAF that women in blue have geared up to raise the pride of the nation to the highest possible point on the earth," an IAF press release said.

The team had been flagged off by the Air Officer-in-Charge Administration, Air Marshal J.N. Burma, on April 13.

The team, which followed the southeast route, comprises 11 women officers. It was  accompanied by a medical officer and eight airmen, who are qualified mountaineers.

Choudhary was accompanied by Corporal Raju Sindhu in her climb to the pinnacle. Pandey and Sharma were accompanied by Squadron Leader D. Panda, Sergeant Jasbir Singh and Corporal Ganesh Pokhariya to the peak.

"Being the first women officers of the IAF to be in a situation where no other IAF women officer has been earlier, these women officers exhibited exemplary courage and determination in bringing laurels to the IAF and the nation," the release said.

To undertake the challenge, the team underwent a strenuous training schedule, including a basic mountaineering course, and winter training camps at Siachen in 2010 and 2011.

They went on to scale progressively higher and tougher Himalayan peaks in the past two years, starting with Mt. Stock Kangri (6,121 metres) in Leh, Mt. Bhagirathi II (6,512 metres) in Uttarakhand, Mt. Kamet (7,757 metres) in Garhwal and Mt. Saser Kangri I (7,672 metres) in Ladakh.

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