Two years after losing a leg, she scales Mt Everest

Two years after losing a leg, she scales Mt Everest

Barely two years ago, she found herself in a pool of blood beside railway tracks and had to be rushed to a hospital.

Left with no option, doctors had to amputate one of her legs to prevent the infection from spreading. She had been thrown off a speeding train while resisting a robbery near the Bareilly railway station in Uttar Pradesh.

 A few days back, Arunima Sinha, a former national level volleyball player, created history by becoming the first female amputee from India to climb the world’s highest mountain peak Mt Everest. Arunima was at the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation-run training camp in Uttar­kashi from March 3, 2012. 
She had to undergo intense training to overcome headache at high altitude. She claims cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who battled with cancer, was her inspiration. A Hollywood film producer has reportedly offered to make a film on her life, which indeed is quite interesting and full of ups and downs.

 Arunima has returned to her home district of Ambedkar Nagar, about 200 km from here. During her brief stopover in Lucknow, she was accorded a rousing reception. The joy of conquering Mount Everest was palpable on her face as she shared her feelings with Sanjay  Pandey of Deccan Herald during an interview.
Excerpts:

Did you ever think that you would be able to conquer the world’s highest mountain peak?

I was very sad losing one of my legs but I had never lost heart. My family members took pity on my condition. I did not like that. I then read an article on Mount Everest and that changed everything. I had, in my hospital bed itself, decided that I would one day conquer it. I wanted the world to remember me as a successful person. Everest had engulfed my dreams. I made contact with Bachendri Pal (the first Indian woman to have climbed Mount Everest) from the hospital bed. She asked me to meet her after getting discharged. I knew that my dream was going to come true.
You must have encountered a lot of difficulties during your training?

I started my training with Bachendri Pal in March 2012. Initially, I had to face a lot of difficulties. My fellow trainees used to complete the climbing quicker than me. But that only encouraged me to work harder and soon I started beating them. 

I had a prosthetic leg and that created problems. It used to bleed often while the right leg used to be swollen. I had stopped even looking at it. Bachendri Pal always used to encourage me.
How did you make your dream come true?

To begin with, I was not very certain of my success. As I took steps toward the summit, I gained in confidence. My journey for the peak began on March 31. It lasted 52 days. The entire journey was full of thrill and excitement and of course difficulties. The most difficult part is climbing in what is known as the “Death Zone”. Every step ahead was fraught with risks. Any slip would have resulted in certain death. I also saw partially visible bodies of some mountaineers covered in ice. On some occasions I had to climb continuously for hours at a stretch. I saw Mt Everest from the South Summit. I also started experiencing altitude sickness. 

I had little oxygen left in my cylinder. Someone suggested that I should call off the mission and return but I chose to go ahead. And at 1055 hrs on May 21, I was where I always wanted to be--on the world’s highest peak.
How did you feel after reaching the Everest?

I just couldn’t believe initially that I was actually on the peak. The reality gradually sank in. I felt very proud to hoist the Tricolor there.
You come from an ordinary and orthodox family in a backward UP district. How did you overcome them?
Our society is still not ready to give freedom to women. I experienced this during my childhood. People used to ridicule me when I went to the ground with a hockey stick in my hand for practice. They also made fun of me whenever I used to wear tracksuit. I got married early but it lasted for only 20 days. But my family always stood by me.
Were you upset when the UP Police refused to believe that you had been thrown out of the speeding train while resisting robbery?

The UP Police did not make any atte­mpt to trace the criminals and instead harassed those who had helped me. It was only looking for loopholes in my statement.
What’s your message for youth?

I firmly believe that every one has a dream and he or she must make all efforts to make that dream come true. I also want to tell the girls that they must never succumb to the wrongdoings. Once a youth made an obscene comment on me when I was returning home. I picked up a piece of stone and hit him. He never dared to repeat that.

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