Jamshedpur, May 26: Three climbers from Jharkhand reached an enviable height of success today.
Rajendra Singh Pal (53), Meghlal Mahto (30) and Binita Soren (25) scaled the Mt Everest summit early this morning, one year and six days after Jamshedpur homemaker Premlata Agarwal became the first woman from Jharkhand to conquer the 29,029ft peak.
Rajendra, the brother of ace climber Bachendri Pal, was the first to reach the summit at 4.40am. Meghlal and Binita followed suit, at 6.50am. Guided by Asian Trekking Agency, the organisers of the expedition, the three embarked on the extremely windy and greatly challenging South Col (Camp 4 at 26,000ft) route from the Nepal side at about 9 last night.
The five-member team, besides the three from Jharkhand, included climbers Lovraj and Nandini as well as the surefooted sherpas.
Rajendra, who attempted Everest in 2001 but failed, used all his experience to trudge along the difficult trek to reach the summit first. The comparatively less experienced Meghlal and Binita took their time to make it to the peak.
The summit climb could have taken place earlier but heavy snowfall and gale-force winds forced the team to abandon plans and remain anchored at the base camp (17,500ft) from April 15 to May 22 as they could not get a clear climbing window to go for the summit.
The three, however, went through acclimatisation, climbing up and down from the base camp to Camp 2. The team also scaled the Island Peak at 20,275ft.
Unlike most climbers who fly by helicopter to Lukla and then trek to the base camp, Rajendra, Meghlal and Binita opted to trek all along ever since they started the climb on March 25 from Jiri. The three underwent acclimatisation under the guidance of Bachendri, the leader of the successful Indo-Nepal expedition to the world's highest peak in 1984 and the first Indian woman to climb Mt Everest.
The ace climber accompanied the three from Delhi to Jiri and then to Tengboche, where she saw them off. The move was aimed at boosting the confidence of the trio, especially Meghlal and Binita, who were attempting the peak for the first time. Rajendra was a member of the Millennium Indian Everest Expedition (East Ridge) in 2001, but failed to scale the peak then.
"I had heard a lot about mountaineering and one day decided to visit the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) with some of my friends and since then I have never looked back," an excited Binita had said just before the expedition.
Meghlal, who holds a postgraduate degree in economics, had expressed similar thoughts. "I am very excited about the expedition. Mountaineering has lifted me from poverty line to Mt Everest," he had said before embarking upon the expedition.
Congratulating the three climbers, Tata Steel managing director H.M. Nerurkar said: "Tata Steel is happy to have sponsored this successful expedition to Mt Everest where our own climbers from Jharkhand have scaled the world's highest peak. We will continue to support such activity that helps build self confidence and team spirit and facilitates development of leadership qualities and empowerment in the long term."
Bachendri, who is away in Uttarkashi conducting the TSAF's outdoor leadership course, said over phone that it was like a dream coming true.
"I wanted to see rural youths from Jharkhand reach the top of the world. Tata Steel gave me the platform to guide rural youths to do the extraordinary," she added.