Monday, June 27, 2022

Asmita Dorjee conquers Mt Everest South Summit without supplementary oxygen

Dorjee was trained and supported by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) in her pioneering endeavour

Jamshedpur: Asmita Dorjee, aged 38 years and a Senior Instructor at Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF), reached the south summit (8745m) of Mt. Everest (8848m) without using supplementary oxygen. She returned from south summit (8745m) at 6:30am on May 13, 2022, making her the first Indian woman to achieve this incredible feat.

An exhilarated Dorjee said she is disappointed but satisfied with her attempt. She had been training for the summit for the last three years with a focus on improving her strength, endurance, and stamina, keeping the no-oxygen attempt in mind.

The expedition route beyond the 8000-metre mark, also called the ‘death zone’, is considered extremely dangerous due to thin air, strong winds, and bitter cold. Due to very low oxygen availability, climbers are required to use supplementary oxygen from camp 3 i.e. above 7100-metres in order to survive and return safely.

There have been very few people in the world who have climbed Mt. Everest without supplementary oxygen.

On May 13, 2022, at around 6:00 am, when she reached the south summit (8745m), Asmita temporarily lost her vision due to lack of oxygen in her body. Her fellow Sherpas took the decision of a turn-around and supported her in the downclimb from south summit to Camp (8000m).

After returning to the base camp, she was hoping for another attempt, however, the doctors advised her against it as she could have developed the same symptoms of High-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) again.

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She started her return from base camp on May 18, 2022 and returned to Kathmandu on May 22, 2022. Safety has always been the frontrunner of any expedition organised by TSAF.

Congratulating Asmita on her achievement, Chanakya Chaudhary, Chairman, Tata Steel Adventure Foundation & Vice President (Corporate Services), Tata Steel, said: “We are delighted to have Asmita back with us after reaching 8745m without supplemental oxygen.

The fact that she managed to accomplish this altitude without using supplementary oxygen makes us even more proud of her achievement. This was by no means an ordinary feat and required an unimaginable amount of endurance, resolve, and determination on Asmita’s part. At TSAF, we will continue to promote and support adventure sports in the country and inspire generations.”

Chanakya Chaudhary had flagged off the expedition along with Hemant Gupta, Head, TSAF, and Premlata Agarwal, Manager, TSAF on March 29, 2022.

Asmita left India on April 3, 2022 and reached Kathmandu on the same day. She reached Everest base camp (17,500 ft) on April 14 after a trek of 8 days through the Khumbu region. As part of acclimatisation, she climbed Mt. Lobuche East (20,075 ft) on April 20. After that, she did 2 more rotations till camp 3 at 23,000ft.

As she was attempting Mt. Everest without supplementary oxygen, she did an additional rotation till 25,000 ft and stayed one night in camp 3.

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She started for the final summit push on May 9, 2022 from base camp. After crossing the dangerous Khumbu icefall, she reached camp 2 (21,000 ft) on May 9, where she had one rest day.

She reached camp 3 on May 11 and occupied camp 4 i.e. south col (26,400 ft) at 11 am on May 12. After a few hours of rest at camp 4, she was on the last leg of her journey to the summit at 8 pm on May 12. And finally, after showing tremendous effort, determination, and strong willpower, she returned from south summit on May 13, 2022.

Dorjee was supported in her mission by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF). TSAF was planning to send Asmita to Mt. Everest in 2020 and 2021. However, the expedition was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The TSAF has so far supported and trained 10 climbers who have successfully summited Mt. Everest. They are Premlata Agarwal (2011), R.S. Pal, Meghlal Mahato, and Binita Soren (2012), Arunima Sinha and Susen Mahato (2013), Hemant Gupta (2017), Sandeep Tolia, Poonam Rana and Swarnlata Dalai (2018).

About Asmita Dorjee

Asmita Dorjee, a Sherpa by origin, born in Thesu, a tiny village above Namache Bazaar in Everest region. Although, the mountain oxygen runs in her blood, she moved to India after her mother passed away in 1989.

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Her father was Sherpa of Bachendri Pal during 1984 and later passed away in another expedition. She was then brought up by Bachendri Pal as a family member. TSAF supported Asmita to complete her Basic Mountaineering Course in 2001 and subsequently Advanced Mountaineering Course in 2003. Then, she was employed as a instructor at TSAF to conduct outdoor leadership courses and expeditions.

Preparation and Mountaineering Achievements

She is a strong mountaineer with many feathers to her list of mountaineering achievements. She has climbed and attempted more than 8 peaks above 6000m.

She has successfully climbed Mt Satopanth (7075m), Mt Dharamsura (6420m), Mt. Gangotri 1 (6120m), Mt Stok Kangri (6070m), Kang Yatse 2 (6270m), Djo Zongo (6240m). She has climbed Mt. UT Kangri (6030m) in winter and attempted Mt. Stok Kangri in winter and reached 5700m.

These expeditions were the building blocks of her mountaineering journey. An expedition to this highest summit requires a lot of active preparation which she started in Apr’ 2019.

She has been training for last 3 years with focus to improve her strength, endurance & stamina keeping no oxygen attempt in mind. She has climbed various 7000m and 6000m peak as part of training and additionally, cycling and running for long distances. She was also doing lot of trail running in TSAF base camp at Uttarkashi and Dalma hills in Jamshedpur.

The experience and learnings from other Everesters at TSAF have played a key role in her preparations.

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