This 23-year-old Udupi woman goes mountaineering to challenge herself – The New Indian Express

Express press service

UDUPI: The Himalayas are the epicenter of the mountaineering boom, reflecting several emotions – of awe, endurance and glory – for those who want to tackle its snow-capped peaks and rock faces. While this inhospitable mountain range may pose a challenge or two to those who want to reach its summit, the difficulty of scaling the peaks of life’s challenges comes with its own preparation and uncertainty.

This story of a young woman from Udupi, who literally reaches new heights as a mountaineer despite a humble past, is as interesting as it is inspiring. Sumalatha Bajagoli has always taken life head on. Daughter of a day laborer and housewife, Maala’s young wife, Bajagoli from Karkala taluk in Udupi district learned the art of getting out of financial perils since childhood. Unfazed by the struggles, the 23-year-old has chosen a rewarding, albeit difficult, precarious and fraught with deadly pitfalls life path.

Driven by resolve and determination, Sumalatha took up mountaineering. “My college principal, Suchitra Suvarna, motivated me to do this and also allowed me to be part of a mountaineering expedition organized by General Thimayya’s National Adventure Academy,” says- she.

After climbing mountains in parts of the Himalayas in 2017 and 2019, in September this year she completed her third mountaineering adventure, climbing a height of 15,407ft at Pahalgam Mount Sunset Point in Jammu and Cashmere. She was part of a team of 30 members, including 10 women.

Candidly citing her family background, from where she went “as high as the Himalayas”, she says: “It would take a lot of planning, money and support if I were to reach such heights on my own. But helpful people have kindled the fire of bravery and gallantry in me since my college days. My caretaker supported me when I was accommodated at the Social Welfare Department hostel in Udupi. I was pursuing a BA in Journalism at Dr G Shankar Government Women First Grade College in Ajjarakad. She suggested I pursue mountaineering and soon I convinced my parents. At first, they had reservations, but ended up realizing my interest and my talent. Having been on three such mountaineering expeditions since 2017, they now praise my decision,” she says happily.

While many brave women have been at the forefront of mountaineering adventures, it is widely seen as a male-dominated activity, but Sumalatha has a different opinion. “In fact, it is the mental capacity that determines whether or not one can climb a mountain, ruling out altitude sickness, frostbite, hypothermia and problems related to acclimatization, in addition to threats of rugged terrain, avalanches and unpredictable weather conditions.Gender does not determine how well a person is suited to the sport.In my case, on several occasions, I was faster than my male counterparts.

Physical strength does not represent mental endurance. Self-confidence and practice are equally important,” she explains, adding that summiting Everest is her lifelong dream. State that the three components of passion, fitness and discipline are necessary in a mountain climber. “Sumalatha has all these qualities, which have helped her perform well. During basic mountaineering training, with small-distance expeditions at the initial stage, she proved her mettle,” he says, adding that in adventure sports, more than physical fitness, endurance mentality and the ability to accept calculated risk are a must, and Sumalatha has excelled on all fronts.

proud parents
Sumalatha’s parents, Babu and Bittu, say they felt proud when they saw their daughter waving the tricolor on the country’s peaks. They express their confidence that their daughter will continue her mountaineering expedition, despite all her challenges. Sumalatha is known as the “Himalayan girl” in her small village.

Above the world so high
In 2017, overcoming altitude sickness, Sumalatha climbed Sikadhar Shikar, reaching a height of 14,800 feet for the first time. In 2019, she ascended the Thajiwas table at Sonamarg in Jammu and Kashmir, reaching the height of 11,500 feet. During the third expedition, organized by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation with the General Thimayya National Academy of Adventure in September this year, Sumalatha reached an altitude of 15,407 feet on the Pahalgam Mount Sunset Point, still in the Union Territory. .