Nine Women, Aged 50+, to Trek 4,500km Across Himalaya

The first Indian woman to summit Everest is leading nine women on a five-month expedition across the Himalaya. Bachendri Pal, 67, is the oldest member of the group but all of them will be over 50 and from India. Three have previously summited Everest.

The group, called Fit@50+, will cover 4,500km over 40 mountain passes as they move from east to west across the great range. They begin their trek in May from the small mountain town of Bomdila and end at the Karakorum Pass around the second week of October. A three-person team will support them during their trek.

From Arunachal Pradesh, the route winds through Sikkam, Chitrey, Kala Pokhari, and Sandakphu to Nepal. Here, they cross the Salpa and Lamajura Passes before tackling 5,416m Thorang La, the highest pass on the Annapurna circuit. From here, they proceed across the Lamkhaga Pass, eventually ending at the 5,539m Karakorum Pass.

In 1984, Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to summit Everest. Photo:


Pal told Telegraph India that she wants to show that age and gender are not barriers to fitness. The long duration of the expedition, over 22 weeks, makes it unique, she says.

The expedition is organized by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation, of which Pal is a director, together with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India.

Pal summited Everest in 1984 and since then, she has led multiple expeditions. In 1993, she led an Indo-Nepali women’s expedition to Everest. In 1994, she and a team of 18 women rafted 1,500km from Haridwar to Calcutta. And in 1997, she led the first successful traverse of the Indian Himalaya from Bomdila to Siachen, the controversial boundary between Indian and Pakistan.