Arunima Sinha

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A brief biography

Dec 29, 2019: The Times of India


‘I want to take a women’s group to Everest’

Everest, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus (Russia), Mt Vinson (Antarctica)…this is how Arunima Sinha’s resume reads, years after an act of bravery left her an amputee and fired her ambition.

On May 21, 2013, Arunima became the first female amputee to scale Mount Everest. While climbing the summit, she says, the biggest doubt in her mind was: would all those people doubting her be proven right? “Even before I set off, people had passed judgement. I was a woman, an amputee at that, how could I climb Everest?” In the final sprint, she climbed non-stop for 28 hours to reach the summit. “It was difficult to use the toilet as I couldn’t squat. My foot was swollen and my prosthetic limb came undone midway. I was dragging it. And my stump was bleeding,” she recalls. Many summits followed, Mt Vinson coming this January.

Arunima lost her right leg below the knee in 2011 after she fell off a moving train while fighting off robbers. She was then a national-level volleyball player. “Some people said I tried to commit suicide; some said I hadn’t got a ticket and jumped when the TT came. I used to read these stories in the papers while recuperating at AIIMS. The pain of these lies was greater than the pain of losing my limb,” says Arunima. It was during that frustrating hospital stint that she decided to take up mountaineering. After two years of training, the 24-year-old summited the peak on a carbon-fibre foot which crumbled in her shoe after the climb.

“Earlier, I was a nobody. There are so many people who lose their limbs and are forgotten. I too would have joined those dozens. But this feat made people sit up and take notice. Suddenly, people were listening,” says Arunima, who was awarded the Padma Shri in 2015. Does she dream of going up the peak again? “If I get a sponsor, I would like to go again. I know many girls who want to scale, I want to send them or lead them to Everest,” says Sinha.

— Shobita Dhar

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