“No heights are too high to reach”.
With a high spirit and belief in herself, Sangeeta S Bahl became the oldest woman in India to scale Mt. Everest at the age of 53. Sangeeta is 54, an entrepreneur who runs her own image consulting firm and an avid climber. She has summited six peaks in six continents.
For Sangeeta, age is never a barrier to achieve what one wants to.
HappyAging met this Superwoman who has literally defied odds and learnt about her unrelenting desire to pursue her passion. Here are some excerpts from the interview (Do not miss to watch the video):
Sangeeta is a ‘Yes woman’ by nature, hence her response to every experience and opportunity in life is a big yes rather than waiting for the perfect moment to begin things. Her first brush with a peak happened when her husband asked her to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with her to tick off an item from his bucket list. They trained together and were able to achieve that feat. Sangeeta was 47 then. It is then that she realized that she needed a sound training for it. Soon, she found a mentor in Himachal who trained her in technical mountaineering and her journey began.
She made up her mind to climb the seven summits and the rest, as they say, is history.
The risks and the thrive
Sangeeta says climbing summits is full of risks; You have to brave the harsh weather, get exposed to hypothermia and frostbite. But when you are prepared and trained, you can get through it to reach the peak. She emphasizes on being mentally prepared for any eventuality.
In one of her summits, she suffered a massive injury to her leg and needed to be operated upon. She was asked to take it easy for nine months, but it was her sheer will power, unshakeable mental spirit and intense physiotherapy that she was able to climb her highest peak of her career in South America soon after. She scaled the height of 22,847 feet within six months of her operation!
Her first attempt to climb Mt. Everest was in 2017. Sangeeta describes how every step at the mountain is laden with risks and there is danger lurking at every corner. She had to stay at the base camp and go through an ice fall every day for 51 days trying to reach the summit. She was able to touch 23,500 feet but she really fell ill in that attempt and she had to cut her journey short. After all there is nothing bigger than life.
But once a mountaineer, always a mountaineer and Sangeeta came back stronger in 2018. This time, she took extra care of herself when getting ready. In this attempt, she again had to go through the ice falls but she was successful in scaling Mt. Everest! She had to make 11 trips to the ice fall to do so but then how many people can claim of such a feat?
Preparation for the seventh summit
Sangeeta finds preparing for a summit and preparing to age gracefully pretty much the same. Every day, you take care of your health, be conscious of what you think, be mindful of what you eat and slowly, you prepare your body and mind for the journey ahead.
Sangeeta is preparing for her seventh summit in the next two months to touch Mt. McKinley in North America. Her dream is to raise our tricolor there and she is doing everything she can to prepare herself mentally and physically.
She goes to the gym four times a week and works out outdoors for two days a week. She even climbs 21 floors with weight every day for two hours. She weight trains herself to carry all the load on the hills with 70kg of weight on her back. She is very clear that her health or age will never be a barrier in her dreams.
The 50 plus club
There are a handful of 50 plus people in India who are also mountaineers and it’s very easy to single them out is what Sangeeta says. But having started her journey at 47, she feels that age is just a number and if someone wants to take up mountaineering or any passion for that matter at any age, they should!
Message to women
“Women are much stronger than they give themselves credit for!”
Sangeeta attributes her achievement to her biggest strength in life – her unwillingness to bow down to societal pressure and she urges other women to do the same. She says that women are much stronger than they give themselves credit for and can achieve anything they want to. Sangeeta refuses to call herself a superwoman, but feels that she is a simple girl with extraordinary dreams.
“Happy Aging starts with us!”
She believes Happy Aging starts with us. With age, comes knowledge and experience and this experience is only beneficial when we share it with others. ‘Each one – teach one‘ – she beautifully puts it.
Today, Sangeeta is achieving her extraordinary dreams along with taking care of her parents, her family and running her business successfully, while touching peaks and making India proud. Her humility may not allow her to consider herself a superwoman, but we truly feel she is one with astounding strengths and dreams. Kudos to her spirits!
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