The IAF Women Mountaineering Expedition Team was greeted by the IAF with a grand reception, the moment it landed at New Delhi, IGI Airport today. The busy airport saw Air Commodore PR Sinha, Principal Director, Sports, Adventure and Schools along with a 30 member IAF contingent and the IAF Band, receive the team.
“Do well, the nation is looking up to you”, were the words with which the 20 member IAF Women Mountaineering Expedition Team was flagged off by Air Marshal JN Burma, Air Officer in charge Administration on 13 April 2011. With seven members of the team summiting the Mount Everest, the team had comprised of 11 women officers, one medical officer and eight male air warriors. Set to conquer the highest peak in the world, the team had followed southeast ridge route facing technical challenges thrown up by the famous and extremely volatile Khumbu icefall besides negotiating numerous crevasses that came its way.
While Flight Lieutenant Nivedita Chaudhary and Corporal Raju Sindhu became first ones in the Expedition to scale the Mt Everest on 21 May at 0900hrs, Squadron Leader Nirupama Pandey and Flight Lieutenant Rajika Sharma along with Squadron Leader D Panda, Sergeant Jasbir Singh and Corporal Ganesh Pokhariyal climbed the peak on 25 May 2011 at 1015 hrs.
Amid cheers from family and friends of the team members gathered to welcome them, an idea of the ‘Women in Blue’ embarking on Mt Everest Expedition had been realized. Since its conception in early 2009, there had been consistent efforts in terms of Team Selection, rigorous Training Schedule that included- a Basic Mountaineering Course and Winter Training Camps at Siachen in 2010 and 2011, and scaling Mt Stok Kangri (6121M) in Leh, Mt Bhagirathi II (6512M) in Uttarkhand, Mt Kamet (7757M) in Garhwal and Mt Saser Kangri I (7672M) in Ladakh before taking on the challenge to scale the highest peak in the world situated at 8848M.
Air Marshal Naresh Verma, Director General (Works and Ceremonial) had gone to receive the team at Kathmandu, Nepal where the team was also felicitated at the Indian Embassy.