Deeya Bajaj and her father scripted history by becoming the first father-daughter duo to climb Mt. Everest together. What compelled them to do so? How was her experience climbing Everest with dad? Here’s her story.
“Growing up, my father would carry me on his back & take me on expeditions to Rishikesh, Gulmarg and Goa. He was a sports enthusiast & owned an adventure tourism company. As soon as I could walk, I was hiking with him. Adventure became my first love. In fact, I was 11 when I enrolled in an adventure course at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. I was one of the youngest girls there.
Over time, Dad not just became my guide but also my travel partner & best friend. People would ask my dad, ‘What are you making your daughter do?’ but he never bothered. I gradually started realising that there was a visible difference between how my parents treated me & how other girls around me were raised.
So, one evening, I went to my father & said,’Dad, let’s climb Mt. Everest together & send out a message that girls can do anything if they want to!’; Papa was thrilled. For the next 2 years, Dad & I prepared for the big climb and finally on the 10th of April, 2018, we began our 6 week expedition with a group of sherpas.
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I knew we’d form a great team but it was easier said than done–there were days when the temperature would dip to -45°C. Sometimes, the wind speed was so high that we’d feel as if we’d be blown away! But we didn’t give up.
But on the last day, as we were ascending, Dad yelled, ‘My oxygen mask isn’t working!’; a chill ran down my spine. We were just one hour away from reaching Mt. Everest! But without hesitation, Papa said, ‘Don’t stop Beta, I’ll figure it out.’
The path was so narrow that two people couldn’t stop together, so I carried on reluctantly. As soon as I reached the peak, I was relieved to see Dad ascending with a replaced oxygen mask. That’s when it finally sunk in–We became the first father-daughter duo to climb atop Mt. Everest. We unfurled the Indian national Flag together. I hugged Dad and we both broke into tears.
My dad & I are now on a journey to climb the highest peaks of all seven continents. I often pull his leg, ‘You will be 80 one day & won’t have the energy you do today. I’ll probably lift you on my back and carry you to the mountaintop’, Dad chuckles with pride.”
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