Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First Indian Woman to conquer Mt Everest – Tine Mena & the record of Apa Sherpa

A news headline in ‘The Hindu’ read :  First Arunachal woman to scale Everest  -  Bachendri Pal was the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest. She achieved this feat in 1984.

Mountaineering or  climbing mountain is more than a sport.  For men conquering high mountains has remained a quest.  Surmounting Mount Everest has shot men into fame.   On 29th May 1953,  the Newzealander Edmund Hillary created history by becoming the first man to conquest Everest.  His accompanist Tenzing was lesser known !

The world’s highest mountain peak Mount Everest is called Chomolungma in Tibetan and Sagarmāthā  in Nepali.  It is  8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level, located in Mahalangur section of the Himalaya on the Nepal-China (Tibet) border.   Turning the annals of History, in  1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon recommendation of Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India at the time, who named it after his predecessor in the post, and former chief, Sir George Everest.

It is stated that Waugh was unable to propose an established local name !  but why he chost not to name the Tibetan or Nepali name ? – remember the others Kangchenjunga, Dhaulagiri etc.,   The name Chomolungma,  reportedly appears on a 1733 map published in Paris.  It had been the practice to assign to every geographical object its true local or native appellation but the highest peak was given a British name, despite the fact it could not be written in native languages. 

The highest mountain in the world  has challenged climbers – it is stated that technically climbing  K2 or Nanga Parbat are more difficult. Hundreds have perished unable to complete the expedition. 

It is a matter of honour that 25 year old Tine Mena of Arunachal Pradesh has become the first Indian woman to successfully scale the mountain.  She reached the peak on 9th May 2011.  she has returned to base camp safely.   Anshu Jamsenpa, 32, another woman climber from the same expedition group is on her way to the top of the world.
A 14-member all-women expedition from the Indian Air Force is also headed towards the Everest.  Interestingly newspaper reports have it that the climber shared a packet of Maggi noodles only there. 

On Monday, the 25-year-old, from remote Roing village, made mountaineering history when she carried the flags of India and her state to the top of the world.  It was a determined effort by this young lady, who reportedly lost her mother Lone on the day she left for her  advanced training course.  Though she reached the peak on Monday 11am, due to the bad communication system, her mountaineering agency could be informed only on Wednesday, after she had reached the safety of the Everest base camp.

Two years ago, the state government of Arunachal Pradesh had also assisted the expedition of male climber Tapi Mra, who became the first climber from the state to summit Mt Everest. This season, a record 31 men and women from India are attempting to tame Mt Everest.

There was another World record, which may not garner so much of World Headlines.  Apa Sherpa broke his own record of having summited Mt Everest the highest number of times to reach the top for his 21st ascent.

Sir Edmund Hillary climbed to history in 1953 – the person who was with him was Tensing Norgay who was also a Sherpa.   Sherpas are ethnic group from the most mountainous region of Nepal, high in the Himalayas.  The term Sherpa is also used to refer to local people, typically men, who are employed as guides for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, particularly Mt. Everest. They are highly regarded as elite mountaineers and experts in their local terrain. The Sherpa language belongs to the south branch of the Tibetan language family.

The record maker Apa aka  Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa nicknamed ;super Sherpa’ was born in 1960.  As part of The Eco Everest Expedition 2011, Apa made his 21st Mount Everest summit in May 2011. His exact age is unknown, but during a 2003 interview, he estimated it to be 40.  Apart from these 21, there obviously are more unsuccessful attempts.  His first success was on 10th May 1990, immediately followed  by another in May 1991.

For the industrious Sherpa community, helping tourists get to the top of the high mountains is a source of income also.   Though they know the region like the rays on their palm, it is very risky and about a third of people who died in the conquest have been sherpas.

There is another mountain lying between Kathmandu and Mt Everest.  This 7181 m peak has two summits - northern (higher) summit being called Shankar (a manifestation of Shiva) and the southern summit being called Gauri (a manifestation of Shiva's consort).

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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