12 Women Begin 5,000Km Trek Across Himalaya

Twelve women over 50, led by 68-year-old Bachendri Pal, have begun a five-month, 4,977km journey across the Himalaya. After eight days, they are on schedule along their planned route.

In 1984, Pal became the first Indian woman to summit Mount Everest. Since then, she has led multiple expeditions, including an Indo-Nepali women’s expedition to Everest, a rafting expedition from Haridwar to Calcutta, and the first successful traverse of the Indian Himalaya from Bomdila to Siachen.

Photo: Instagram/@wthe.2022


Her hand-picked team includes homemakers, a veteran army officer, grandmothers, a retired principal, and one member who runs an adventure academy. All have mountaineering experience, and three have summited Everest. What bonds them is their love for adventure and the Himalaya.

East to west through India and Nepal

The group set off from Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India and will traverse the Himalaya from east to west. They will cover 37 mountain passes. They had planned to pass through Bhutan but that country is still closed because of the pandemic, so they have adapted their route around it.

During that portion, they will stay south of Bhutan, trekking through the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal, and Sikkim. Traversing Nepal, the team will then move back into India, passing through Kumaon, Gharwal, Himachal, and Spiti. They finish in the Leh Ladakh region of India.

Photo: www.transhimalayanexpedition.org


To prepare for the challenge, they went on a week-long training trip in Uttarkashi. Pal has also been running 25km a day to make sure she is ready. The women will walk 25km a day at first and hope to gradually increase this over time.

At the end of each day, vehicles will take them to their accommodations, mostly arranged by the Indian Army. The following day, they will return to their pickup point and continue their journey.

Through the expedition, they want to break the ‘I’m too old for this’ narrative, especially for women in their 50s and 60s.