On In People & Politics

Arunima Sinha's Journey Of Becoming The First Female Amputee To Climb Mount Everest Is Truly Inspirational   

There are a few stories, which we come across every day and we don't pay much attention to. But a few events have the potential to inspire us to the extent that we let them influence the way we conduct ourselves in the future.  The journey of Arunima Sinha, the 28-year old amputee who climbed Mount Everest, is one such event. Arunima was thrown off a moving train when she refused to hand over her gold chain to thugs who tried to snatch it.She lost her left leg during the incident but unlike what fate may have planned for her, she set out to make her own destiny. For a woman of her age, the first question society poses is how will she get married or bear children.  But through her efforts, she became the first Indian amputee and the first female amputee in the world to have climbed the Mount Everest. This did not go unnoticed as she was awarded the Padma Shri, which is India’s fourth highest civilian honour. Read on for more details.  


A resident of small district of Ambedkar Nagar located 200 kilometres from Lucknow, Arunima's father was an engineer in the Indian army and her mother was a supervisor in the health department.  She lost her father when she was three and her sister’s husband then became the family’s head. She also has a younger brother. She was a cyclist, played football and also been a national level volleyball player but claimed that she never had plans to seek a profession in the arena of sports. She hung up her boots for a while and although she was an educated woman who wanted to practice law, she was facing the brunt of unemployment.     

Job Hunt

She received suggestions from her brother-in-law who asked her to apply in the Paramilitary force in the army so she could stay close to family as well as be in touch with sports in some capacity. She didn’t, however, make it despite several attempts. Desperate, she applied for a job at Central Industrial Security Force in 2011. Though she got a call letter, they had got her birth date wrong. She made up her mind not to lose this job because of technical error. So, she set out for Delhi to get this error corrected.  

Life Changing Events

Arunima boarded Padmavat Express for Delhi on April 12, 2011. In the train, she was harassed by anti-social elements. She said it isn’t uncommon to have criminals aboard a train in UP but that day was different. Thugs tried to snatch her purse. She put up a brave fight but the thugs grabbed each one of her limbs and threw her out of the moving train. In a matter, which took only a couple of seconds, a train ran over her leg.    

The Darkest Night

Arunima recalls writhing and screaming in pain and rodents feeding on her oozing wounds. When Mahila Ayog demanded a report, it came to light that 49 trains had passed her by while she lay bleeding. As we all are aware, railway tracks often become open toilets for villagers and when a few boys arrived to defecate on the tracks, the next day, they found her. They moved her to Bareilly District Hospital but treatment took time due to the indifferent attitude of doctors.   Narrating the pathetic condition of the hospital, Arunima said a dog moved in her room after the amputation to nibble on her removed body part! The hospital ran out of anaesthesia and she had to suffer in pain as she was fully conscious. However, the hospital staff did its level best with limited resources to help her. Pharmacist B C Yadav donated his blood.    

Media Attention

Soon, Arunima became a sensation and media picked up her story. The then sports minister, Ajay Maken, had her moved to AIIMS so that she could receive world class treatment. Her relieved family did not know that they had to see more days of pain. As the government officials wanted to save their skin, rumours of her possibly attempting suicide began to circulate.   Some even went to absurd lengths to claim she was travelling without a ticket but this was cleared when CCTV footage of her buying the ticket surfaced.   

The Choice She Made

What came next was a decision Arunima took to shut all mouths. She wanted to climb Mount Everest, a decision which either was laughed at or met with doubts about her mental health. While most amputees require months or years to get acclimated to their prosthetic limbs, Arunima started to walk in 2 days. She understood the strength of mind over body and went to meet Bachendri Pal, the first female Indian to scale Mount Everest.  This is what Bachendri told her, “Arunima in this condition, you made such a huge decision. Know that you have already conquered your inner Everest. Now you need to climb the mountain only to show the world what you are made of.”  Arunima then received basic training from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, which granted her all possible support.Tata Steel also supported her. Meanwhile, she also climbed smaller mountains to prepare herself for the big climb.    

Conquering The Death Zone

Fully-abled people face harsh difficulties while launching expeditions to Everest. For Arunima, it was more painful. The ankle and grip of her prosthetic limb would swivel and make her lose her grip. Any pressure on her right leg would send spasms due to inserted steel rod. At the fourth camp en route to the peak, known as the death zone which comes 3,500 feet before the summit, many people lose their lives.    She saw bodies of people who climbed before and with her lying around. But she overcame pain, fear and anxiety to reach the summit. Her oxygen was critically low and was warned by her sherpa that she might lose her life, but still went on as she felt her life would never be worth living if she stopped now. Not only did she hoist the Indian flag but also placed pictures of her idol Swami Vivekananda on the summit.      

This is what she said.

She said one doesn’t fail when he or she doesn't achieve goals. What is important is that the goals should be worthy enough.