Wednesday, September 27, 2023

TSAF’s Fit@50+ Women’s Trans Himalayan Expedition enters final leg

Himalayan Paths

12 women over 50 years from across India are participating in the expedition

Jamshedpur, June 30: Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) in collaboration with the Fit India, Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, and Indian army under the FIT India banner is organizing a unique expedition titled FIT@50+ Women’s Trans Himalayan Expedition ’22.  The expedition is led by Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri Bachendri Pal, the noted legendary Mountaineer and the first Indian Woman to scale Mt. Everest. The team also comprises 3 women Everest Summiteers.

The FIT@50+ Women’s Trans Himalayan Expedition ’22 is celebrating India @75 and dedicate the expedition to ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. The 5-month-long expedition involves traversing the Himalaya from East to West – from Arunachal to Ladakh covering over 4,977 kms and cross about 37 mountain passes. The 14-member team will commence a journey of an ultimate human endurance starting from Arunachal Pradesh and traverse through Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim, Nepal, Kumaon, Gharwal, Himachal, Spiti, Leh Ladakh and will be concluded at Kargil.

The idea that was seeded a couple of years ago and materialised into a mountaineering expedition in 2022. The team walks approximately 22-25 km every day. Be it scorching summers in north east when they started the expedition or current situation of monsoons in Uttarakhand. Monsoon has added challenge for the team members, but they have been heroically overcoming obstacles from the beginning.

The expedition aims to addresses the mindset of our society and highlight the need to keep fit and demonstrate that age and gender is no barrier for a fit and a healthy lifestyle. It will also signify women empowerment, leadership, decision making, lifestyle and importance of fitness for our entire community. As the life span has increased globally, it has become important to engage with people above 50 years in various activities effectively. The expedition will inspire and motivate women of all age groups to include fitness activities in their daily lives to stay healthy. In the Covid Pandemic era women’s health and fitness plays a key role both in the families and towards nation building.

Trekking to the frosty peaks of the Himalayas and absorbing its beauty is any one’s dream. The journey is demanding. It requires grit and stamina to overcome multiple challenges in inclement weather and tough terrain. The Himalayan journey demands and molds the psychological, emotional, and physical challenges and strengthens ‘can do’ spirit. The expedition will provide a hope and create a new path among senior citizens that be it 50+ or even at 60+ one can pursue their dreams.

The team is in Uttarakhand right now and is about to cross Lamkhaga Pass, one of the toughest passes of the entire expedition at an altitude of 17,330 feet. The team is scheduled to end the expedition in Kargil on occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas celebrated on 26th July every year to commemorate the sacrifices made by soldiers in this war.

The team had started this expedition in March 2022. The flag-off was on 08th March, International Women’s Day to show the strength of women by setting out on this expedition. They then flew to Arunachal Pradesh by Vistara and started trekking on 12th March from Pang-sau Pass at India Myanmar border.

This courageous team consists of 12 women, all above age of 50 years being led by Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mt Everest back in 1984. This team of women are from different backgrounds, corporate job to defence personnel, mountaineer to housewife, and outdoor training instructor to a now retired locomotive driver.  The youngest of 54 years and eldest member aged 68 years. Apart from these women, few other women have also joined as guest trekkers for short duration such as 10 days. An example of the inspiring story is Gita Patel who is a 70 year old woman walking to cross Lamkhaga Pass.

The expedition is being organised by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation with support of Fit India as the primary sponsor. The biggest support and operational help has come from Indian Army, ITBP and SSB. They have been of tremendous help right from ensuring safety to different units welcoming the team throughout the route and making them feel home. Apart from them, Vistara (the official airline partner of the expedition), Tata AIG, Tata Sport Club, Traq by Titan have helped in cash and kind to bear the expenses of the expedition apart from personal savings pitched in by the expedition team.

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