‘Tribal youths realized their strengths, learned to fight negativity’

Picking up ten from a pool of 50 tribal boys and girls to scale Mt. Everest and training and preparing them for the feat is a daunting task, especially if the aspirants have no exposure. But a veteran of 17 attempts to the summit and well-known mountaineer Bimala Negi Deoskar her husband Avinash knew what they were looking for. Having trained many youths in adventure and endurance sports, the couple went about in earnest to select the final ten who have been catapulted to fame and glory after scaling Mt. Everest.
Why where ten people picked up and what where you looking for while making the selection?

Considering the extent of training required and the budgets that it entails, it was not possible to have a very large group. Ten was manageable. We were looking for physical strength, intellectual capacity, social and emotional quotient, as team work is required.

What did the training entail and how was it planned?

We explored the potential among the students of ashram schools. The ITDP (Integrated Tribal Development Project) officials suggested them. The biggest challenge was to tell them about this expedition. They don’t watch much television and have no exposure. But they are into lots of sports activity. We told them to practice and show us their strength. After ten days, we selected 50 on the basis of their physical strength, age as only those above 18 years can scale from the China side. We held a six-day camp at Wardha to develop their communication skills and introduced them to the concept of increasing physical endurance and tested their intelligence through simulation. At the Bhongir facility in Hyderabad, they underwent a specially designed mountaineering course which included rock climbing, rappelling and grip techniques. They learnt about what was required of them. In Darjeeling, they climbed 17,000ft. A medical test was conducted at every stage. They were graded after each session.

Why was it important to train them at Leh & Ladakh?

We went there to simulate Everest conditions. We had taken them to Hyderabad in AC coach and many fell sick. It gets very cold and very lonely in the mountains which can cause depression. They were taken for night climbing as the climb to the summit begins at night. It was here that the final realization if they can do it or not came. That confidence of ‘I can do it’ engaged them. They realized their strengths, learned to fight negativity and the importance of communication.

In the final lap of training, could you achieve the desired results?

After Leh & Ladakh, we gave them a month’s break to write their exams. But all of them were kept at one place and we controlled their nutrition and exercise regimen. Most of them are rice eaters. We had to include foods like porridge and fruits in their diet. They practised yoga, meditation and breath control and were asked to eat at regular intervals. We showed them films about rescue and disaster. They were given a mental picture of what awaited them. They were super fit after the training.

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