One of the most formidable challenges in the world of mountaineering is climbing the seven highest peaks in the seven continents of the world, called the Seven Summits. As the legendary mountaineer Steve Bell who wrote a book on his experience achieving this distinction has said, “Completion of this amazing feat, known as the seven summits, demands much of the climber—to travel to the remote and exotic corners of the world, scale the heights of mountain giants such as Everest and Mckinley, and face extreme weather conditions and hostile environments for long periods over many years.” No wonder only around 350 people have achieved this feat so far.
Arunima Sinha is an unlikely Indian who is inching towards joining this coveted list. The 27-year old was a national level volleyball player who hit the headlines in 2011 after being thrown out of a train by hoodlums while on her way to a job interview in Lucknow. She lost a leg in the accident, but went on to climb the Mount Everest less than two years later, becoming in the process, the first female amputee to climb the world’s highest mountain. Since then the mountains that she has conquered include the 5895m Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, Mount Elbrus, which at 5642 m is the highest peak in Europe, and the 2228 m Mount Kosciuszko, the highest in Australia.
Two days Sinha unfurled the Indian flag on the 4164m Mount Breithorn, the second highest peak in Europe, which is part of what mountaineers call the Seven Second Summits, made up of the second highest mountains in each of the seven continents. Sinha’s next expedition takes her to Argentina to climb the 6960 m Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Andes in South America, and the highest mountain outside of the Himalayas. After which she will be left to climb the 6194 m Mount McKinley in Alaska (North America), and the 4892m Mount Vinson in Antartica.
Arunima’s never-die spirit has helped her find a corporate sponsor for her climbs in the form of the Swiss technology company Oerlikon. “I am delighted at being able to achieve the feat of ascending Breithorn. With each climb, I gain valuable know-how and confidence, which helps me in the ascent of the next summit. I am very thankful for all the support provided by Oerlikon to my endeavors and the fruitful partnership with the company,” she said after climbing Mount Breithorn in Oerlikon’s home country. “We’re very proud of what Ms. Sinha has achieved,” said Khurshed Thanawalla, Country Representative, Oerlikon India. “The ascent of Breithorn, with its glaciers and snow, is a demanding test and her triumph in Switzerland is matter of pride for us.”
Talk has it that Farhan Akhtar is considering making a film based on her book Born Again on the Mountain: A Story of Losing Everything and Finding It Back , that she wrote last year. So much more will be heard about Arunima Sinha in the coming months and years.