New Delhi : Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Anurag Singh Thakur felicitated the Fit @50+ Women’s Trans Himalayan Expedition 2022 team at the Major Dhyanchand Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday. The expedition, led by Indian mountaineering legend Bachendri Pal, was flagged off on March 8 by Smt. Sujata Chaturvedi, Secretary, Department of Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports on the occasion of International Women’s Day in New Delhi.
The expedition went from Pangsau pass (Indo Myanmar border), Arunachal Pradesh to Dras sector, Kargil in Ladakh , covering a distance of over 4,841 km and covered 35 high mountain passes in 140 days from East to West of Himalayas in India and Nepal.
Mentioning the elephantine expedition undertaken by the team comprising of a total of 17 mountaineers, Shri Anurag Singh Thakur said, “This is a big slogan in itself, being fit at 50 years. The expedition has been inspirational for not just the 50 year olds in the country but also for everyone in India. What you all have done is remarkable by all means. It is also the true power of Nari -Shakti.”
Reiterating the Prime Minister of India’s vision regarding Fit India, Shri Thakur mentioned, “Shri Narendra Modi ji envisioned the mantra of ‘Fitness ki dose, adha ghanta Roz’. Now, we have done everything possible to live up to that vision. The challenges were steep and the Indian Army too lent their helping hands in every step. Bachendri Pal’s leadership was exceptional.”
Shri Thakur suggested that we should come up with more fitness related programmes in border areas which can be converged with Fit India and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat campaigns. This programme will include fitness programme in border areas. The youth will also get the opportunity to know and witness the areas and villages along the border. Even the youth living in boarder areas must experience the life of metro cities, he added.
At 68, taking up the expedition and leading the team was in itself an exceptional feat by Bachendri Pal, who is the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Explaining moments from the trek, she said, “I had many thoughts before taking this up at this age but then I thought it’s a huge thing for women empowerment. The Ministry of Youth Affairs, Tata Steel and especially the Indian Army helped us in every step of the way. The journey was not easy. We had blisters but we never stopped. With full positivity, we went ahead. It is all that matters. We faced a lot of challenges but Indian army was always there as a backbone. In their presence, we got a lot of push and confidence. They supported and assisted us in everything.”
The objective behind this expedition was to raise awareness about health & fitness among senior citizens and to set an example especially for women that it is possible to stay fit & healthy and keep dreaming big at any age. Among the passes covered include the toughest Lamkhaga pass 17,700 ft; the challenging and the highest of the expedition Parang La pass 18,300 ft; Bha Bha pass 16,000ft, and Thorang La- 17,800 ft. The longest day trekked was 13.5 hours at altitude above 10,000ft. Longest distance covered in a day above at a high altitude of 12000 ft was 29 km. Some of the routes in Eastern and Western Nepal were very very remote, with completely constrained resources, and at times for many days we were trekking between 10000- 14000ft.
The expedition team narrated their experience while traversing through difficult passes in Uttarakhand, Leh Ladakh and Himachal. “There were leeches in everyone’s leg, we didn’t get any bio breaks but we never gave up. We carried on,” mentioned Chetna Sahoo, a member of the expedition team. “We addressed school children and made them aware about Fit India and spread the message of fitness in remote areas. There were no resources too and we learnt what minimalistic living is all about in these 5 months of travelling. Bachendri Pal motivated us all throughout.”