“It might sound crazy, but I took the decision right when I was admitted in the hospital. I was scared about what I would do in my life since my leg had to be amputated. But I really wanted to react to all the bad things that were said about me” – Arunima Sinha
On 20 July 1988, a girl named Sonu (Arunima Sinha) was born in Ambedkar Nagar, UP. Not much is known about her childhood or education but she is the first woman with an amputation to scale the Mount Everest.
Arunima Sinha was an erstwhile national volleyball and football athlete. Her life changed when she boarded the Padmavati Express for her examination to join the Central Industrial Security Force on 12 April 2011. She was in her coach when some robbers tried to snatch her bag and gold chain. In the middle of the scuffle, she was pushed out of the train. There was another train on a parallel track which crushed one of her legs below the knee.
She was admitted to the hospital and to save her life, the doctors had no option but to amputate her leg. She was under treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences when the survival story cricketer Yuvraj Singh who came back from the jaws of cancer fuelled her passion to climb Mount Everest.
the doctors had no option but to amputate her leg.
She was discharged from the hospital with a prosthetic leg which was funded by Ramakrishna Mission, Vadodara. Arunima contacted the first Indian Mount Everest scaler Bachendri Pal and enrolled for her tutelage at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation in 2012. She proved to be the best in the basic mountaineering course from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi.
Her brother Omprakash encouraged her to climb the Everest. To start with, she climbed Island Peak (6150 meters in altitude) as preparations for her final ascent to Everest. For two years, she rigorously trained in the mountains with Srijani Ganguly.
On the day of commencing her journey to Everest, she and her guide were the first one to leave the camp. When she reached the base camp, she was so happy that she lost her balance and skidded to the ground. On her way to the peak, there were several points where she had no ladders for her support to get across wide crevices. In such cases, she had no alternative but to jump across the life-threatening rifts.
A wrong landing while jumping with a prosthetic leg could have killed her. There were times her legs could no longer keep pace with the men ahead of her. There was a particular man who asked her to move ceaselessly knowing fully well she had a prosthetic leg. She lost her pace and that man went ahead of her. There were several instances where people overtook her and left her behind.
At one point of her climb, her guide refused to go ahead, to which she retorted that she will make it alone. As she walked ahead, she could hear her guide following her. He never deserted her after that. She indeed had a compassionate guide who also knew that he could get killed in the treacherous climb.
A wrong landing while jumping with a prosthetic leg could have killed her.
After 52 days of climbing, she reached the peak of Mount Everest on 21 May 2013 at 10.55AM. On reaching the apex, she wrote a note of thanks to god on a cloth and place it in the snow.
She also thanked all those who made a mockery of her, only to prove how wrong they were. Her determination only proved they were the ones who were insecure and scared of a woman who defied the odds in her life and made it a success story. She also said those people who mocked her were actually scared of the fact they knew she was going to make it to the summit.
Upon her victory, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav handed her two cheques of Rupees 25 lakhs. The then sports minister Jitendra Singh congratulated her. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015. Another feather added to her cap was the Tenzing Norgay Highest Mountaineering Award.
In her interview with Sportskeeda with Shuvro Ghoshal, she was asked, “What went through your mind when you were at the hospital after your accident?” To which she replied, “I kept screaming in pain before finally passing out. When I finally woke up, I was helpless. I thought I won’t be able to walk again. My elbow was fractured. The amputation of both my legs left me shattered.
As I lay in the OT, a dog started feasting on the leg that had just been removed. Not just that, outside, I was facing a lot of condemnation even though I was the victim. I was tired of convincing people that I didn’t attempt suicide. I was scared”. When asked how she stayed motivated, she replied “My amputated leg is my motivation. After I defeated the hospital bed and wheelchair, I knew I can achieve everything in life”.
Arunima Sinha has now dedicated herself towards social work. She runs a sports academy for training persons with economic hardships and disabilities. All the funds she has, she is donating to the noble cause. She authored a book Born again on the mountain which was launched in 2014. In the 27th edition (2016) of the Limca Book of Records, Arunima Sinha was fabled as one of the ‘People of the Year’.
Featured Image Credit: V Talk India