“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” I found this quote apt for the first female amputee who ascended Everest.
The woman this blog post is about experienced one of the worst falls and turned out that falling was to her just another way of flying. Arunima Sinha, world’s first female amputee to have ever climbed Earth’s highest peak, Mt.Everest. Its almost impossible to even
vicariously relive the pain that she went through.The story that precedes her feat is something everyone should definitely know about.
The Tragic Incident :
Sinha was traveling in a train from Lucknow to Delhi, she was at that time a volleyball national player and was heading to Delhi to appear for an examination to join the CISF. She fell victim to a brutal mugging incident. Few thieves who were also in the same berth as her tried to rob her off her belongings. Sinha though the strong(strong would be an understatement) woman that she was, tried to resist them but was unfortunately overpowered by the thieves. They threw her out from a running train and she fell on a parallel rail track. She lay motionless on the track for a long time and during that time another train ran over her leg!
How she recalls it in her own words was “I resisted and they pushed me out of the train. I could not move, I remember seeing a train coming towards me. I tried getting up. By then, the train had run over my leg. I don’t remember anything after that.”
Although it was not just the train running over her but the numerous rats who fed on her wounds while she lay there unconscious that added on to her misery. She lay on the tracks for hours until she was rushed to a hospital. She had suffered major pelvic and leg injuries and the doctors had to amputate her leg in order to save her life.
Reborn as a mountaineer :
The tragic event was by no means an obstacle for her. While in hospital, under all the excruciating pain she developed an even stronger, more formidable mindset. While still being treated in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, she resolved to climb Mount Everest. She was inspired by cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who had successfully battled cancer, “to do something” with her life and was encouraged by her elder brother to climb Everest with a prosthetic leg which was arranged by raising funds with the help of a swami of Ramakrishna Mission, Vadodara.
Right after she got discharged from the hospital, she contacted Bachendri Pal (the first Indian woman to climb Everest) over a telephone call and signed up for training under her at the Uttarkashi camp of the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation. She excelled during her training and before climbing Everest she conquered two 6000 metres peaks, Mount Chhamser Kangri (6622 metres) & Island Peak (6150 metres). An year later Sinha alongside Susen Mahto (a TSAF instructor who had accompanied her in ascending the Chhamser Kangri peak) began her ascend to Everest.
The Ascend to Everest and the first female amputee to do so :
It took her 52 days to reach the summit. During the final part of the ascend she crossed myriads of dead bodies. That was not at all demotivating for her as she had in a way been resurrected after the train incident. Her prosthetic leg came off and she literally had to hold it with one of her hands to keep it in place. She was running low on Oxygen supply because of the slow pace that corrobarated her amputee tag.
Even that didn’t affect her as when she reached the summit she wanted her companion to record a video of her, that was really time consuming and could have led to her demise but she was oblivious to any form of negativity and just wanted to soak in every bit of that moment. While descending she almost run out of her Oxygen supply but as they say fortune favors the brave. Another mountaineer who was carrying extra oxygen provided
one of his tanks to Sinha who eventually accomplished a near impossible feat.
Aftermath :Arunima Sinha, the first female amputee on Everest is now dedicated towards social welfare. And She wants to open a free sports academy for the poor and differently-abled persons. She is donating all the financial aids she is getting through awards and seminars for the same cause. Arunima has written a book “Born again on the mountain.” It was launched by Prime minister of India Narendra Modi in December 2014. The amazing woman was awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2015.
Everest was just the beginning. Since then the first female amputee on Everest has managed to summit the highest peaks in four continents. Mt.Kilimanjaro in Africa, Elbrus in Europe, Kosizko in Australia and Aconcagua in Argentina.
Inspired by the grandeur of the accomplishment of the young woman, I would like to conclude by saying; “As we look back at our life, there are a million different things that have happened, just in the right way. To allow us to make our dreams come true. And we know, someone has all that under control.”