Gangotri Soneji, a resident of Baroda, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis four years ago. She was advised to rest and never trek again in her life. Going against the medical experts’ advice, she not only went on a trek, but she also accomplished the feat of scaling the Himalayas at the age of 63.
The lady who was the only woman from Gujarat in the team of 11, was ecstatic about going on this adventure.
She said that trekking through the Himalayas, going on dangerous routes, and watching the world from the peak of the mountains was an unforgettable experience. She further added that the experience was doubly memorable as she had taken the decision to go on a trek against medical advice. The expedition started as a challenge for her, but soon turned into an exciting journey.
The Trans Himalayan expedition was undertaken by them under the guidance of Padma Bhushan Bachendri Pal, who was the first Indian woman to scale the Mt Everest summit. Gangotri shared that there were some treacherous climbs and unfavorable weather conditions, but she was determined that she would not let body pain come in the way of her goals. She also said that she knew Bachendri well, as they have trekked together in the past.
In their journey, they walked about 20km everyday. They passed through the mountain ranges in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim and ended the trip at Kargil. . They covered 2,170km on foot in 140 days and reached the peak of 18,000 feet twice during the trek. In some mountain passes, there were no water streams between 6,000 and 8,000 feet due to deforestation, concrete construction and scarce rains,” Soneji shared.
Upon asking what were her most exciting moments in the trip she said ” ” The exciting moments were walking through the mountains amid lush green cover on both sides. But we experienced tense moments too when one of our team members slipped at Lamkhaga pass and suffered injuries.” The entire team along with Soneji met President Droupadi Murmu as well as Union Sports minister Anurag Thakur after the expedition. Soneji, who was a national swimmer in her school days, undertook rock climbing at the age of 18 and fell in love with it. After that, she went for multiple treks and completed 15 expeditions in the Himalayas before taking a break to shift to the US. Soneji returned to Vadodara in the 1990s and began chasing her passion again.