From Battlefield to Summit: Inspiring Tale of the First Indian Army Women Team To Scale Mount Everest

published on 31 May 2023

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In 2005 women officers of the Indian Army and troops of the Special Frontier Forces attempted Mount Everest.

The expedition was led by Major SS Shekhawat. Between April and May the team opened 5 camps above the base camp on Ronbuk Glacier. Climbing from the Tibetan side is considered more difficult.

On June 1st after getting waiting for days for the weather clearance, the first summit team moved over the 1st, 2nd and 3rd step - considered to be the last obstacles above 28000 ft before attempting the pyramid summit.

On June 2nd, four women reached the summit. Captain Sipra Majumdar, Captain Ashwini Pawar, Cadet Tshering Ladol and Trainee Dechan Lhomo.

But, as most often happens in expeditions of this grandeur, tragedy struck. Not once but twice.

One of the Sherpas developed chest pain at 8000m and quickly descended down to base camp. He didn't inform the expedition leader.

Two of the oxygen cylinders malfunctioned.

Captain Sipra reached the point of exhaustion and couldn't move. It was 5:30pm and she was stuck at 28,710 ft.

But, let's not forget this is the Indian Army. We don't leave anyone behind.

A second team was prepared and rushed. Not to summit but to rescue. Hawildar Champa Younten, Hawildar Nim Bahadur and Lance Naik Sherab Pladen fought for 17 hours and brought back Captain Sipra alive back to base camp. This rescue happened from a point where till date no exhausted climber has ever returned alive.

The rescue team was so close to summiting the top of the world. Yet, adventure was sacrificed for a soldier's life.

We salute the four women who made it to the top and those who made sure they came back down safely.

Subscribe to Trek Library newsletter and get a well researched in-depth article every Saturday

This is part of a series on Indian Army's Adventurous History.

Part 1: Indian Army's Affair With The Majestic Mountains

Part 2: 11 Gorkha Rifles: Bravest Of The Brave

Read more