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Satara girl Priyanka Mohite sets out to conquer Mount Makalu

FPJ Bureau | Updated on: Tuesday, May 28, 2019, 11:59 PM IST

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Mumbai: Priyanka Mangesh Mohite who at 21 was the youngest Maharashtra girl to have conquered Mt Everest in 2013, and only the third youngest Indian to do so, is all set to become the first Indian woman to climb the world’s fifth highest mountain peak, Mt Makalu along the Nepal-Tibet border, some 19 km southwest of Mt Everest. Mohite will leave India on April 17 and is likely to be at the top of the 8,463-metre peak by the end of May.

The total duration of the expedition is about 50 days and the base camp is set at around 5,600 meter, followed by four more camps at 6,100, 6,600, 7,200 and 7,600 meters. In a Facebook post on a dedicated media group on Tuesday, Mohite informed about her upcoming expedition to Mt Makalu and invited sponsors to collaborate with her on this historical mission.

Mohite who has a masters degree in biotechnology from the Mumbai University and currently works with a pharmaceutical MNC as a research associate in Bengaluru revealed that the total cost of the expedition would be around Rs 17 lakh, out of which she has already paid about Rs 12 lakh. She is on the lookout for sponsors for the remaining amount.

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The 26-year-old mountaineer from Satara in Maharashtra comes from a middle class family and arranging funds for her expensive mountaineering expeditions has always been tough. But this young talent has time and again proved that taming adversity is her second nature.

Each of her expeditions cost in the range of Rs 20 lakh and in last five years, she has undertaken as many expeditions to the top of the world. Her father works with MIDC and had paid US$15,000 for her Mt Everest climb after she managed to raise US$10,000 from different sponsors on her own at a young age of 21. She grabbed national headlines in 2015 when her team was attempting to climb Mt Lhotse, the fourth highest peak at 8,516 meter.

As her teammates were preparing to leave their camp, they had to postpone their plan because of sudden inclement weather. As they were waiting for the weather to turn better, they were jolted by a series of powerful earthquakes that triggered massive avalanche in the higher reaches of the Himalayas. All members of the team that had left the camp ahead of them perished in the avalanche. Mohite and team members were finally rescued by the Indian Army.

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All the while, people in Satara and elsewhere in Maharashtra were praying for her safe return, with the Satara district collector setting up a control room to coordinate and monitor the rescue effort. She did return safely but was disappointed for not being able to climb Mt Lhotse. Three years on, she did accomplish the feat in May 2018.

Mt Makalu is considered to be a tougher climb but the entire geography is stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. At the base is the Barun Valley, which looks splendid with elevated waterfalls cascading down the deep gorges. The locale is isolated and only ethnic communities such as Sherpa and Kirat constitute the local population.

As Mohite is gearing up for yet another adventurous expedition, does she have any plans to stop challenging the mountains and settle down with a family of her own? She giggles, and says she wish to return to Mumbai before she has a family of her own. But in all likelihood, that’s a few years away, and only after she has been at the top of the world a few times more.

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Published on: Thursday, April 11, 2019, 06:46 AM IST