No mountain too high for her

No mountain too high for her

Breaking stereotypes

No mountain too high for her

A national level volleyball player, while travelling in a general compartment of a train, had to fight back chain snatchers and was thrown out on the tracks.

 She lost a leg in the process, but not her willpower. Arunima Sinha has not only become the first female Indian amputee to climb Mount Everest, but has also broken numerous stereotypes in the process. She has forced the Indian society to come face to face with stereotypes regarding gender and disability.

In a conversation with Suridhi Sharma, she shares more about her journey, the challenges she faced as a woman mountaineer and her climbing experience.

When did you decide to pursue mountaineering?

After I lost my leg, lying on the hospital bed, I read an article on mountaineering in a regional newspaper, and instantly decided to take it up. I have been a national level volleyball player but had never done mountaineering. I told my brother and other family members about it. That moment sparked a fire in me and slowly, I started gaining support.
What were the initial challenges you faced?

There was a lot of negativity after the train incident. Even thoughts of suicide crossed my mind. Instead of getting any empathy, I heard a lot of rumours. It was said that I was travelling in that train without a ticket. All women face difficulties in this society, but for someone who had just lost a leg, it was all the more difficult. Each step was a challenge, but I fought against all odds.

Has this journey been any different for you because you are a woman?

It all depends on our mindset. I am proud that I am a woman. A woman is a creator, and we are powerful. My womanhood never made me feel weak. All challenges that come based on my sex are external, born in the society. These are stereotypes and I always make it a point to talk against it and make people understand the reality. Women sports are generally not given much importance and a part of it is to be also blamed on the media, which only focusses on specific sports. It is also important that the sports ministers and related authorities come from backgrounds that can help in promotion of all sports.
How have people’s attitudes changes towards you?

People used to say that mountaineering is for men and I will end up breaking my bones on the rocks. But now people bring their children to me and ask if I can mentor them. I have guided numerous girls on how to begin their journey in sports and what institute to approach. I am planning on starting a sports academy soon.
Which has been your most challenging climbing experience?

The Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia is the smallest peak with only 4,884 m height, but is very steep. It is rocky as well. Also, there was a waterfall because of rains during the time we were climbing. We also had to cross a swamp and wear knee-high boots. Rock climbing can be very painful.

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