Anshu Jamsenpa conquered Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, on 16th May for the fourth time. Within a span of five days, she scaled it again. After training for more than a month, she started her climb from the base camp on 13th May and reached the summit on 16th May along with 17 other climbers. A household name in Arunachal, people often joke that whenever Anshu gets bored, she goes to scale the Mount Everest. Her achievements make it sound easy enough except that mountaineering is one of the most expensive and risky sports. Hers is a story of courage, conviction and absolute determination.
The Rise of the Underdog
A mother of two teenage children, Anshu took to mountaineering in 2009 by default. She had gone to serve lunch to the participants taking part at the National Himalayan Trekking Programme, organized by her husband Tseing Wange, which had rock climbing as one of the events. Curious, as the group of rock climbers did a recce on the rock face; she went up to them and said she wanted to try. Try she did! ‘I finished rapping down the rock face successfully,’ she said. As they say, the rest is history.
In her very first attempt in May 2011, Anshu Jamsenpa ascended the world’s highest mountain, not once but twice becoming the only mother in the world to have done so twice in 10 days. In 2013, she reached the summit again. This time, Anshu started the double ascent expedition from Guwahati in April which was flagged off by the Dalai Lama.
A Tale of Survival
Jeetu Kalita, Anshu’s brother who is himself an acclaimed adventure car rallyist from Arunachal says that he is not surprised at Anshu’s achievements. ‘She always had her way. Even as a child, if she wanted to do something, she ended up doing just that. She was always a determined kid and especially good at sports’, he says. She had sustained injuries just before she left for the fourth ascent. ‘Though we were worried about her injuries, we knew she would go ahead. She is that determined and stubborn’, says the proud brother. Anshu would have excelled in any given field. And she has found her calling in Mount Everest, says her brother.
Anshu is one of the seven children of Tsang Droma and Upendra Nath Kalita. Born in picturesque Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh, Anshu grew up amidst the rugged mountains, which explains her fondness for the mountains. But in the mountains, not everything is as peaceful as it seems. A step gone wrong could mean the end of your life.
Anshu survived the 2015 Nepal earthquake that killed around 9000 people as her Everest base camp was totally destroyed by the avalanche. Though she acknowledges the dangers of an Everest expedition post her close brush with death in 2015, Anshu is determined to scale the Everest as many times as possible.
An Inspiration for Many
While she trains, Anshu, who has become an icon for many young women and men takes out time to be a motivational speaker across the country. She has spoken out for women’s rights and against racial discrimination. As a mother and wife in an extremely patriarchal Arunachalee society, the journey was not easy to start with.
‘During my initial stage, I faced a lot of discouragement. But later on after I had my achievements and mountaineering records to show, things changed. Apart from that, emotional, mental and physical hardships also had to be dealt with. I knew it is never going to be easy to be as a mother to even make an attempt but I also knew that if I attempt I won’t look back. I think it’s about conviction and self–belief”, she wrote in ourstories.org.in.
Written by Tongam Rina