Flight lieutenant Niveditha Chaoudhary First IAF women officer to climb the Mount Everest

A 27-year-old Flight Lieutenant today became the first woman from the Indian Air Force to scale 8848-metre-high world's tallest peak Mt Everest along with a male climber.NivedithaChaoudhary, who is part of an 11-member all women IAF expedition, reached the summit at around 9 am after a gruelling four-hour climb along with her co-climber Corporal Raju Sindhu (26) from Haryana.It was virtually a hat-trick for Indian climbers with as many as five summiting the Everest in the last two days. A Haryana couple Sushma and Vikas Kaushik scaled the peak yesterday along with Premlata Agrawal (48), who was the oldest Indian woman climber to achieve the feat.

The Air Force woman officer and the Corporal were accompanied by two Sherpa guides to the summit, according to Durga Bhandari, manager of Nepal office of Rimo Expeditions that arranged the expedition.Reports said that more Indian Air Force women climbers and their male compatriots were preparing to launch more summit bids in the coming days.The team, which is accompanied by a doctor and eight male support climbers, is led by Group Captain Narendra Kumar Dahiya.All the women climbers in the IAF team are first timers to the Everest.

Let’s go through her experience to be inspired
I joined the team in 2009 after having done Basic Mountaineering Course and did one successful expedition to Mt Kamet (7757 Mt) in year 2010. I went to Siachen Glacier along with the team for winter training camp in year 2010 & 2011. The endurance and grit of the team were tested during various expeditions and courses. Here we were in for a systematic, scientific and gruelling physical fitness and endurance training program with three hours of weight training in the gym in the morning hours and endurance runs of two hours in the evening. After having reached at Nepal, we landed at Lukla on 16 Apr 11 and started our trek to Base camp, we reached Base camp on 24 Apr 11 having gained on altitude of about 8000 over 60kms in eight days. On 28 Apr 11, we all put on our crampons, tightened the climbing harness and started for acclimatization. The team was divided into two parts, Team-1 & Team-2. The first team consisting self, Sqn Ldr Lalitha Mishra, Flt Lt. Toolika Rani, Cpl Raju Sindhu, Cpl DK Vyas and the team leader Group Captain NK Dahiya scrambled through Khmu icefall directly towards Camp- II (6400 M). However three members fall to exertion and fever as the team hit Camp-II. The rest three self, CptRaju and team leader continued to Camp-III (7162M) the next day. On 20 May 11, we pushed to submit camp (26300’) over a gruelling 11 hours of climb. Once at South Col, we just had 5 hrs. of rest and 10:00 PM, the final summit climb began. Crampons, Harness and oxygen masks were strapped on, self and Cpl Raju attached our jammers to the first fixed rope along with Sherpa and began our assault on the peak. Group captain Dahiya wished us luck. It was a full moon night. The sky was absolutely clean and the snow-capped Everest was glittering under the moon light. Of course the climb was tiring but the surrounding beauty took all the attention and by the time I could realize the pain of climb, I reached balcony. It was 3.00 AM. I changed my oxygen cylinder, took rest for 5 – 10 minutes and again started climb on the final summit Ridge. As the view of the horizon and the changing colours of mountains was very enchanting. However, this portion of climb was very dangerous due to the rocky surface and very thin ridge where you can put only one foot at a time. I reached Hillary step at around 7:00 AM in the morning. As they say “Once you are cross you are almost there”. As I crossed the Hillary step I could clearly see the summit. It appeared as if it was a few step away, but it took 01:30 hrs. to reach the summit from there.

The overall view was so mesmerizing and the culmination of the conquest of the mother of all mountains brought tears of joy in my eyes. It was on 21 May 11 at 08:30 AM, I finally called up summit camp and said “Sir, I am on the Summit”. The flood of emotions was evident. Congratulation poured in from all the team members at Camp-II and Base Camp. At around 11:00 am, self and Raju started descending. The descended was very dangerous and I faced life-threatening situations but all went well and I reached summit Camp at 05:00 PM. I saw someone standing outside of the Tent. It was Group Captain Dahiya who was waiting for us, as I reached him, he hugged me and I knew you will do it. It was my leaders’ faith in me which made me conquer the mighty mountain.

“The wings of our dreams are spread till there; we can touch the earth and sky from where”.