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Three-member TSAF team sets its sights on Mt. Everest

Jamshedpur, Feb. 23: Continuing its tradition and to promote spirit of adventure & women empowerment Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) is sending three youth to Mt Everest expedition in 2018.

Two of three youths are girls with very moderate background while the third person is Sr. Instructor working with TSAF for more than 10 years.

Swarnalata Dalai, the tribal girl from Odisha, Poonam Rana from Uttarkashi along with Sandeep Tolia the Sr. Instructor have been training with TSAF under leadership of Bachendri Pal. Team is going to Uttarkashi for last phase of preparation and then from there they will leave for Nepal on 25th March 2018.

The three-member expedition team interacted with the media before leaving for Uttarkashi for last phase of preparation.
The trio will trek till base camp via Jhiri route which will help in further acclimatisation. They will reach base camp on 12th April and will climb Mt Lobuche east. Rotations will go on till camp – 3 after that they will be ready for the final summit push after 15th May 2018, said Bachendri Pal, chief of Tata Steel adventure programmes.

The four will leave for the hill state on February 25 where Bachendri Pal will train the climbers in Uttarkashi region.

Addressing a press conference at TSAF office on Friday, Bachendri Pal, said, high altitude, strong winds, low oxygen, extreme cold, dry air, uncertain weather will be the key challenges in the expedition.

But the team has recently returned from Mt Aconcagua (Highest peak of South America & one of the 7 summits) expedition. The team could not scale Mount Aconcagua (22,831ft) in Argentina because of extreme weather but they were able to reach Camp 3 (19,400ft). Expedition period was from 26th Jan – 14th Feb’ 18, added Pal.

‘All the three are physically fit and have also participated in the marathons held recently in Bhubaneswar and Kolkata. We will focus on rigorous training, acclimatisation and time management and it was absence of time management which denied Payo Mumru Mt. Everest summit last year. With the central government promoting ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, the expedition will help the girls coming from conservative society to make a name for themselves which inturn could change the thinking and the society at large’, added the legendry climber Bachendri Pal.

She further said that women empowerment started very early at Tata Steel and the company created a separate department after I peaked Mt. Everest. The girls are dedicated and hopefully they will summit the expedition between 15th to 25th May according to trends.

One of the climbers, Poonam Rana, 21, has done basic and advance mountaineering courses and trekked to Everest Base Camp in April 17. She is from Naid village in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand. She hails from background where tragedies have struck throughout her life.

She lost her father when she was 5-years-old, lost her mother when she was just six months old and also lost her two brothers. BA final year student at Uttarkashi PG College, Poonam has been working with TSAF as camp incharge in Uttarkashi where TSAF is doing courses in Uttarkashi for around 30 years.

‘I had to face society’s discrimination after my parents and brothers passed away but I want to summit Mt. Everest and show my village that girls can also attain success’, added Poonam. She is survived by two sisters and a brother who works as a cook.

Swarnalata Dalai, 20, who hails from Jagadhia village in Jajpur district of Odisha liked forests and mountains since her childhood and climbing Mt. Everest became her dream ever since she met Bachendri Pal.

‘In my village no one knows about mountaineering but I want to climb mountains and want to show the people of my village who donít like girls going out that girls can be superior than boys’, said Dalai who is pursuing her BA final year from Jajpur degree college.

Swarnalata’s father Maheshwar Dalai is a farmer while mother Pramil Dalai is a homemaker.
‘As I came back from Mount Aconcagua expedition, people of my village wanted to meet me and asked me about my success as several of the newspapers carried my pictures about the expedition’, informed Swarnalata.

She has trekked to Everest Base camp, climbed Mt Rudugaira and undergone various high altitude treks in Himalayas. Tata Steel has operations in Odisha for long. She is the first girl whom Tata Steel is sending from Odisha. Very few from Odisha have climbed Mt Everest before.

Sandeep Toliya who will be part of Mt Everest expedition is working with TSAF for more than 10 years as Sr Instructor. He did basic and advance mountaineering courses, Method of instruction, Outdoor Educator Semester at National Outdoor Leadership Course, USA, trip leader course at NOLS, Ranikhet. He has climbed multiple peaks in Himalayas that includes Mt Bhagirathi 2, Mt Rudugaira, Mt Kanamo, Stok Kangri, Karakoram Pass and trekked to Everest base camp.

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