Mumbai : The [email protected]+ Women’s Trans Himalayan expedition team just concluded its month-long journey in the country of Nepal. After 90-days of rigorous trekking, the team is finally back on Indian soil.
Spending a whole month in Nepal that is home to 8 of the 14 mountains above 8000m , including Mt Everest, the tallest peak on Earth, the team is looking forward to the third and final stretch of the expedition in the Indian subcontinent.
This journey began on March 12, 2022 at Pang-sau Pass in the India-Myanmar border where a group of 12 women in the age group of 50-68 years under the leadership of Padma Bhushan Bachendri Pal, embarked on a 5-month long journey of traversing 4,977-km across the Himalayan extreme from East to West. The team had covered a distance of 650-km across four states on the Indian sub-continent viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Upper West Bengal and Sikkim while they travelled for more than 1500-km in the western, central and eastern Nepal.
Standing the test of age, these women stealthily paved their way through the state of Arunachal Pradesh. At an elevation of 3,727ft, Pangsau Pass marked the beginning of the expedition. Situated in the Patkai Hills on the India-Myanmar border, this pass offers one of the easiest routes into Burma from the Assam plains. The team paid their respect to the village goddess before taking the roads.
Breaking out of the ‘I am too old for this’ barrier, the team walked an average of 25-km every day in the initial phase of the expedition, gradually increasing the distance over time. This was the acclimatization phase where the participating women along with the support staff tuned their bodies to the mountain conditions.
The terrain is rough, the weather is calm, the spirits are high, and the team is tough. The Indian Army, safeguarding the nation accompanied the group in every counter-insurgency area. Trekking through the highlands, resting on the roadside, the team received much warmth from the locals in Assam. ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’, some offered refreshments, some wanted to learn more about the expedition. Resting in the corn fields, visiting every local authenticity, having tea in the Assam tea gardens, the ladies never miss out on any opportunity to mingle with the vast cultural expanse.
No amount of harsh weather or any adversity deterred the team’s spirit. There is no denying that the journey involved the ultimate human endurance – physical, mental and emotional. Day started pretty early for the team at about 4:00 am. They used to start trekking at 4:30 am while the sun was still down to cover a larger distance in the cool breezy mornings. Traversing through the counter-insurgency areas, the army-men safeguarded the trekkers all through the stretch.
Crossing the Bogibeel Bridge across the River Brahmaputra for the next destination, celebrating Holi in the accommodation, the warmth that our team has received from the people of Assam is incredible.
Gone are the days when the upper age bracket post retirement was used to relax. It is the era of adventures and these women are the best example. Trekking through the rugged terrain under the guidance of the Indian Army, these brave women are conquering every bit of fear or doubt that arises. These women have broken the shackles of the busy city life to stand and stare at the beautiful serene mountains.
Traversing through the high mountain passes of Nepal, the team is finally back on Indian soil. Mountains have always been a source of pride for Bachendri Pal who grew up in their lap and this endeavor very close to her heart. After meticulous planning of two long years, she has embarked on this journey of a lifetime.
The team trekked through the Annapurna circuit route and reached Muktinath in Nepal. Dissecting high passes to trek from one mountain to another, the ladies reached the Thorangla Pass at an elevation of 17,769ft – the highest till now. They are ready to take up more challenging passes in the Indian sub-continents like the Pharangla pass at an elevation of 18,300ft and the Lamkhaga pass at 17,330ft.
The trek is now opening up for public. Interested women can join the sub-routes and enjoy the lifetime opportunity of trekking along this legendary team.
This historic expedition will reach its final destination at Kargil during the last week of July. Details of the expedition are available at https://www.transhimalayanexpedition.org/.