Conquering mountain peaks is all about going against the odds, and emerging a winner. This is especially true in the case of a young Telangana woman mountaineer, Anvitha Reddy Padamati, who recently earned the distinction of becoming the first Indian woman to conquer the ‘True Summit’ of Mt Sumanlu in Nepal.
The ‘True Summit’ is at an altitude of 8163 metres against the previously recognised summit altitude of 8116 metres. This year the Nepal authorities designated Mt Manaslu’s actual or ‘True Summit’ height at 8163 metres.
But summiting the eighth highest mountain in the world, which has some of the most extreme weather conditions and is avalanche-prone, happened only after Anvitha bravely faced some brutally tough physical and mental challenges.
“I always wanted to experience & climb in extreme conditions in the mountains to know whether my body is acceptable for those conditions or not. I chose the mountains to be climbed and thought that I’ll prepare my own wish list about what next to be climbed. That is the reason I climbed Mount Elbrus in winter, then Mount Everest and now Mt. Manaslu. Climbing Mount Elbrus in Europe taught me that I can survive in extreme cold temperatures of minus 45 degrees and jet stream winds of 60 kilometre per hour wind speed,” Anvitha told IANS.
In September this year, 24-year-old Anvitha Reddy from Bhongir in Telangana, was one among around 400 enthusiastic mountaineers awaiting their turn to scale the peak. Arriving mid-September at Base Camp located around 4500 metres above the mean sea level, she went on a few acclimatisation trips to Camp 1 and Camp 2 reaching altitudes of 5,500 metres and 6200 metres for a few days. On September 16 they decided to push for the summit but a little distance from Camp 2, they encountered an avalanche and decided to return to the Base Camp. After resting for four days, they again set out on the night of September 20, aiming for the Summit on September 24.
Traversing crevasses and vertical inclines they arrived at Camp 3 located at 6900 metres altitude on the next morning around 10.30 a.m. Originally scheduled to scale the peak on September 24, Anvitha encountered very foul weather throughout the way as she made her way through some very challenging and treacherous terrain.
On reaching Camp 3, the team was preparing to attempt the challenging trek to Camp 4. But extremely bad weather conditions and possibility of avalanche strikes forced them to return to Base Camp. A day later they again set out on their expedition and reached Camp 3 on September 26.
That night even as they were discussing plans for the final push to summit, some 300 metres away Camp 3, disaster struck. An avalanche strike left at least two persons dead, and several mountaineers injured.
There were around a hundred people in Camp 3 who saw the disaster unfold before their eyes. Following the tragedy, almost 80 people opted to abort their expeditions and return to the relative safety of the lower altitudes.
“That night, I saw people walking past my tent, returning to the Base Camp. I was not keen on discontinuing the expedition. I have faced tough situations in the past and I wanted to at least go up to Camp 4 before deciding on my next step,” she told IANS.
It was a tough time for Anvitha as she wrestled with the option of pushing on or pulling out. Her Sherpa left the decision to her.
Anvita was made of sterner stuff and decided to push onto the summit. To her credit, she has the experience of summiting some of the tallest peaks in the world, including the iconic Mt Everest. She decided not to miss her rendezvous with Mt Manaslu.
“After most of the mountaineers left Camp 3, there were only 15 others remaining, including the Sherpas. Resting for the night, on September 27 at 5 p.m. we decided to push for the summit. Ahead of me and my Sherpa,there was a team of six on its way to the summit. The situation was very tough but we pushed on,” she recalls.
Around 2 a.m. on September 28, Anvitha and her Sherpa set out for the summit. Making their way painstakingly through deep snow, heavy winds, and snow dust, despite her eyes glazing over, they soldiered on and reached Mt Manaslu’s ‘True Summit’ at 9.30 a.m. the same day. In the process, she became the first Indian woman to climb the ‘True Summit’ of Mt Manaslu.
Anvitha, who is a professional trainer at Bhongir Rock Climbing Academy in Telangana, has now set her eyes on scaling Vinson Massif in Antarctica.