Life is one exciting trek to the top for 24-year-old Namita Dait, a security guard at the civic-run hospital, who has recently scaled and christened three virgin mountain peaks in the Mahuli region of the Sahyadri range
On an ordinary day, Namita Dait, a 24-year-old BMC security guard working in Sion Hospital, appears to have her feet firmly on the ground, as she helps patients locate their respective wards, and maintains law and order in the hospital premises. Seeing her diligently dispense her duties, one could hardly guess that the young woman has a dare-devil for an alter-ego, having scaled lofty and dizzying heights, venturing into places where few have dared to tread.
Sky-high: The three peaks surmounted by Dait and eight other
mountaineers of the club rise to heights of 400 ft, 350ft and 125 ft
respectively, and have been named Guru 1, Guru 2, and Guru 3, by the
mountaineers. PICS/Sunil Tiwari
Among many of her laurels, Dait has achieved the rare distinction of scaling, conquering and christening three virgin mountain peaks in the Mahuli region of the Sahyadri range, in course of a mountaineering expedition carried out with the prestigious Sahyadri Adventure Klub (SAK) between January 21-26 this year.
The three peaks surmounted by Dait and eight other mountaineers of the club rise to heights of 400 ft, 350 ft and 125 ft respectively, and have been named Guru 1, Guru 2, and Guru 3, by the mountaineers.
While planning their expedition, Dait and her fellow climbers were not daunted by the fact that the Mahuli peaks are feared for their steep elevation, towering heights and precipitous rock structures, making it difficult for climbers to find footholds and niches to hook their safety belts.
Dait said, "One of our senior coaches met with an accident while he was trying to scale a peak in the Mahuli region, to reconnoiter the region before the expedition commenced. In spite of that, my team members and I decided to take up the challenge. I am glad that we were successful in hoisting the BMC flag atop the three peaks."
Dait's tryst with mountaineering began when she enrolled for NCC during her college days back in 2008.
"I was initiated into mountaineering when I went for various treks as a part of NCC activities. The thought of scaling huge mountains peaks fascinated me, and I decided to secure professional training in the field of mountaineering."
While in college, Dait registered for a basic mountaineering course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. It turned out she was a natural, securing an A-grade effortlessly. Coaches were so impressed by her skill and dedication that they sent a formal recommendation to the Nehru Institute of Mountainee-ring (NIM) at Uttarakhand, so she could enroll her for the prestigious advanced mountaineering course offered there.
"I cleared my advanced course at Nehru Institute with an A-grade. In order to hold on to the grade, I was given the target of conquering the Jogin 3 peak, which is situated in the Garhwal range, and rises to a steep height of 6,200 metres. I successfully scaled this peak in June 2011," said Dait, who funded her courses and expeditions by saving chunks of the salary she earned working as a security guard at Sion Hospital.
After her towering achievement of conquering Jogin 3, Dait was felicitated by the mayor of Mumbai Shraddha Jadhav and the Dean of Sion Hospital Sandhya Kamath last year.
Miles to go
Dait has already been selected for an advanced search and rescue operation course at NIM in June this year, following which she aims to scale a mountain which rises to a height greater than 6,500 metres.
"I aim to scale Mount Everest one day. In order to achieve this dream, I have decided to systematically scale mountain peaks with increasing heights each year," said Dait, who has already planned a mountaineering expedition with the Sahyadri Mountaineering Club in August next year, wherein she plans to scale a peak of
over 6,500 m either in the Himalayan or Garhwal ranges.
Her journey to towering heights hasn't been without its hurdles, she had to tackle a host of problems like shortage of funds and family opposition. "Initially, I had to face severe opposition from my family, as they thought that mountaineering was too bold a pursuit for a girl. However, after seeing the recommendations I got from my coaches, they have gradually become very supportive."
However, the big hurdle before Dait now is garnering enough sponsorship for her club, for their expedition next year. "A successful expedition needs lakhs of rupees. I hope that my club gathers enough money by next year, so that we can successfully scale a higher peak," concluded Dait.