Meet Arunima Sinha, First Woman Amputee To Conquer Mt Everest

Arunima Sinha did not allow any challenge to come in the way of her dreams. Just two years after losing her leg in an accident, she scripted history climbing Mount Everest as the first woman amputee.

Rachna Chandira
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arunima sinha

Images: Making Peace With Life (L); Hindustan Times (R)

Para-athlete Arunima Sinha's story serves as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the boundless potential. Just two years after losing a leg in a rail accident, she climbed Mount Everest in 2013, becoming the first woman amputee in the world to do so. There was no stopping Arunima Sinha after that. She trained under Bachendri Pal, the first woman to climb Mount Everest, and went on to conquer the tallest peaks of Africa, Europe, Australia and South America, all as one of the first amputee women in mountaineering. 


Who Is Arunima Sinha?

Born on July 20, 1989, in Lucknow, Sinha faced adversity from a young age. She lost her father, an Indian Army officer, and was raised by a single mother, who was in the health department. Sinha was passionate about football and also became a national-level Indian volleyball player. Moreover, she aspired to join the paramilitary forces and enrolled on the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) recruitment.

image: Image: Amit Verma
Image: Amit Verma, Forbes

In 2011, Sinha was on a train en route to Delhi, for her CISF exam, when three robbers snatched her bag and gold chain before pushing her out of the moving rail. As she fell on the railway track, another train on a parallel track crushed her leg below the knee. She was only discovered lying on the track the next day and was rushed to a hospital where the doctors amputated it to save her life. She had also suffered spinal cord fractures and pelvic injuries.

However, her rigour to do something big prospered above all. With medical support, a prosthetic leg and an unwavering zeal, Arunima recovered and soon set her eyes on the summit of Mount Everest. Speaking to Forbes she said, "Even as I lay on the bed, I decided that I would take up the toughest sport in the world. For me, that was mountaineering.” 

Enlisting the support of mountaineering experts including Bachendri Pal, Sinha commenced her training at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and TATA Steel Adventure. On May 21, 2013, Sinha's dream came true as she set foot on the peak of the world's highest mountain. The gutsy Indian mountaineer has been honoured with several awards including a Padma Shri in 2015.


Doctorate From UK University

In 2018, the University of Strathclyde, UK, awarded Sinha with an honourary doctorate for her stupendous achievements. Accepting the award, Arunima said at the Glasgow ceremony, “I'm very happy and grateful to receive this honorary degree from the University of Strathclyde. This award delivers a good message to the youth of India and the world over that if you strive to reach your goals in life, your achievements will be recognised.”

arunima sinha
Sinha and her husband, Gaurav Singh |

Image: Arunima Sinha Twitter

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde said, "Arunima is an inspiration to amputees around the world. Not only has she shown real spirit, courage and determination in overcoming adversity, she is using her compassion and positivity to help other people."

The award given to her is also considered the charitable work conducted through her non-profit organisation. The Arunima Foundation aims to empower women and uplift socially backward classes and ‘Divyang Jan’. It also strives to spread health awareness, environmental services, skill development and more.

mount everest amputee Arunima Sinha women in mountaineering