On scaling newer heights!

Decades ago when Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, mountaineering wasn’t that popular among women but things have changed over the years.

Bachendri Pal was the first Indian lady to scale Mount Everest.   -  Getty Images

"Is mountaineering a sport?" is a question Bachendri Pal has been hearing ever since she scaled the Mount Everest in 1984.

Three decades and several expeditions later, Pal has realised that it indeed is a sport.

“What else would you call it? It is about the hunger and the desire to scale newer peaks that keeps us going. We started it as a sport and now it is only growing,” Pal, who was conferred the Padma Bhushan on Friday, tells Sportstar.

Decades ago when she became the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, mountaineering wasn’t that popular among women but things have changed over the years.

“Climbing and leadership roles are being followed by other sporting disciplines and it is a happy feeling that so many youngsters, especially women, are taking it [mountaineering] up as an adventure, as a sport,” Pal says.

READ: Can't describe the feeling in words, says Chhetri after Padma Shri

Pal, 64, who had earlier received the Padma Shri says all these awards increased her sense of responsibility towards others. “Over the years, my target has been to play the leadership role and help others achieve their goals. And I am happy that I could encourage so many people,” Pal says.

She presently heads the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation in Jamshedpur and even at this age, newer expeditions and campaigns excite her. These days, she travels across the country to conduct leadership programmes for various corporate and sporting organisations.

Pal's success story has found its place in textbooks and even today she receives hundreds of letters and emails daily.

The Arjuna awardee says, “The country's youth and children keep me alive and motivate me to achieve more.

“They write to me asking about adventures, motivation. And its their love that keeps me going."

While the celebrated mountaineer dedicates the award to her parents, she is also immensely grateful to Tata Steel for backing her throughout.

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