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Savita Kanswal, Record-Setting Mountaineer Who Scaled Everest, Dies in Avalanche

Kanswal is the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest and Mount Makalu in a span of 16 days.

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Savita Kanswal, the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest and Mount Makalu in a span of 16 days, lost her life in an avalanche in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi hills on Tuesday, 4 October.

Kanswal, 25, had set a national record by hoisting the tricolour on Everest, the world's highest peak, in May this year.

The ace mountaineer had been serving as an instructor for the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering's Advanced Mountaineering Course (NIM) in Draupadi's Danda Peak when she met with her death.

Amit Bisht, the principal of NIM, confirmed Kanswal's death on Tuesday evening.

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A Childhood Spent in Paucity, an Early Desire for Adventure

The youngest sister in a family with four children living in Uttarkashi's Lonthru village, Kanswal had an uphill journey.

The climbing trainer had seen penury during her childhood, and had juggled the responsibilities of the house along with her schooling.

As a student at a local government school, she would have to climb up four kilometres to reach to institute from her home in Maneri. At the school, she had taken up an adventure course, which exposed her to the world of mountaineering.

In an interview with The Quint in March this year, Kanswal had said, “Once I knew that a career in mountaineering was possible, I just knew that I had to do it. There was no particular reason but I knew that I wanted to be a mountaineer.”

The mountaineer subsequently took up a basic course in mountaineering at Nehru Mountaineering Institute Uttarkashi in 2013 – where she eventually went on to become a coach.

In order to fund her education at NIM, Kanswal had taken up part time jobs, including stints at Cafe Coffee Day and Reliance.

In 2016, she bagged a job as a trainer at NIM.

Kanswal is the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest and Mount Makalu in a span of 16 days.
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'I Used To Get Demotivated...'

In her interview with The Quint, Kanswal had also said that one needs to be mentally fit to be able to climb mountains. “You are without network for days and months at stretch and cannot talk to your family or your friends.”

"I used to get demotivated by many because they would ask me why I am pursuing mountaineering. Eventually, everyone came around. I believe that all is well that ends well," Kanswal had shared.

The climber had recalled one particular scare in the mountains during the conversation:

"While we were climbing Mount Lhotse summit, we had to go from camp 3 to camp 4. We had to come cross a few dead bodies. The Nepal government was making effort to bring these bodies down and we were climbing up. For a moment, I doubted my own decision and wondered if I have come to the wrong place or taken the wrong decision."

The Indian government had sponsored her climb which cost Rs 21 lakh. Kanswal said that she realised at the time that it was a one-time-opportunity, and went ahead. She refused to give up and went on to climb the peak.

Kanswal is the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest and Mount Makalu in a span of 16 days.

Savita Kanswal on Mount Lhote.

(Photo Courtesy: Savita Kanswal)

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Scaling Mount Everest

On 12 May 2022, Savita Kanswal had clinched her tallest achievement by climbing atop the Everest summit at a height of 8,848 metres. Sixteen days later, she scaled Mount Makalu (8,484 metres).

Kanswal had summited Mount Everest in four rotations, as most mountaineers do. Her expedition was backed by crowdfunding; hundreds had contributed to support her aspirations.

"I want to climb all the world's peaks above 8,000 metres, especially the seven continents' highest peaks," Kanswal had said in an interview after the feat.

Kanswal is the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest and Mount Makalu in a span of 16 days.

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Topics:  Mount Everest 

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