President Smt Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Flags in the successful Indian Army Women Everest Expedition Team, here, which has created history by putting seventeen climbers on top of Mount Everest on 25 and 26 May 2012. One of them, Subedar Rajendra Singh Jalal climbed Everest without using supplemental oxygen, the first Indian Army man to do so.
It took one full year of training and two phase selections, one at Siachen Base Camp and the other at Manali, to find and prepare the final team of seven women and ten male climbers along with the support staff. The expedition was led by Colonel Ajay Kothiyal an experienced mountaineer. The expedition was ‘Flagged Off’ by Lieutenant General Ramesh Halagali, Deputy Chief of Army Staff, on 12 Mar 2012. They set off for Kathmandu on 22 Mar 2012 from Delhi and after a strenuous trek of eighteen days, the team reached the Everest Base Camp on 14 Apr 2012. Thereafter, the mettle of each member was tested in a climb which took 45 days to achieve their mission.
The conditions at Everest are unusually difficult this year. More than 200 mountaineers aborted their mission and went back to their countries because of these adversities, the team leader informed. The overall increase in temperature was 10 0C in the Everest region which caused unstable snow/ice conditions in Khumbu ice fall, triggered frequent avalanches and caused slides of rocks and stones enroute.
The Army team attempted to reach the summit on 19 May 2012 but was forced to come back to base camp due to hostile weather conditions and heavy winds enroute to the Everest. The team started again from Base Camp on 23 May 2012 to make their second attempt to reach the summit and this time they succeeded with flying colours. All seven women and ten men of the team stood atop Mt Everest proudly on 25 and 26 May 2012. Subedar Rajendra Singh Jalal climbed Everest without supplemental oxygen and became the First Army Man to have done so. Major N Linyu and Captain Smitha became the first women from Nagaland and Karnataka respectively to have climbed Mt Everest. Apart from marking these records, the team has brought accolades and enhanced the image of the country by helping other groups tremendously.
The expedition team comprised of:
Major RS Jamwal, Deputy Leader (Jammu & Kashmir), Captain Nitin Balram Ahuja, Medical Officer cum Base Camp Manager (Maharastra), Major N Linyu (Nagaland), Major Neha Bhatnagar (Rajasthan), Captain Namrata Rathore (Uttarakhand), Captain Poonam Sangwan (Haryana), Captain Prachi R Gole (Maharastra), Captain Deepika Rathore (Rajasthan), Captain Smitha L (Karnataka), Subedar Rajendra Singh Jalal, (Uttarakhand), Subedar Tajpal Singh Negi, (Uttarakhand), Subedar Prabhudayal Bisht (Uttarakhand), Subedar Khim Chand, (Himachal Pradesh), Havildar Sherab Palden (Jammu & Kashmir), Havildar Praveen Thapa (Uttarakhand), Havildar Sonam Targais (Jammu & Kashmir), Havildar Hoshiyar Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Havildar Chander Bahadur Thapa (Uttarakhand), Lance Havildar Sudhir Singh (Punjab), Naik Unnikannan (Kerala) and Lance Naik Daljinder Singh (Punjab).
The team’s brief stay in Nepal was marked with great bonhomie and camaraderie between Nepal Army and Indian Army climbers. Gen Chhatraman Singh Gurung, The Chief of Nepal Army visited the expedition members at Everest Base Camp, prior to their summit attempt and subsequently hosted a private dinner for the team at his house. Indian Army Women Everest Expedition Team members also met all Nepalese women mountaineers who have summited Mt Everest during the past few years.