The raging wind made it difficult for her to stand upright and knocked off her tent when she reached 7200m on the slope of the majestic Mt Everest, forcing her and her Sherpa guide to seek shelter in the tent of anther expedition.
“We were not carrying any food with us since we had planned to head for Mt Everest the same day,” says Tine Mena, tired but triumphant after becoming the first Indian to summit the 8848m Mt Everest this spring as well as the first woman climber from the North-East to accomplish the feat. “We were given a packet of Maggi noodles and shared it between the two of us, going out the next day to head for the summit, though people warned us not to. They said the wind was rough. But I am from Arunachal Pradesh and we have strong winds at home too.”
On Monday, the 25-year-old, the daughter of a farmer from remote Roing village, made mountaineering history when she carried the flags of India and her state to the top of the world. “I also carried the logo of Jindal, who sponsored my trip,” says Tine Mena, who was sponsored by the state government for her mountaineering courses at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling after the Sports Directorate felt she could be groomed to take on the world’s highest mountain.
“My mother, Lone, died the day I left for my advanced training course,” says Tine Mena. “During the week-long course, I did not eat anything. When I began my final climb Sunday night, despite the cold, wind and fatigue, I thought I had to succeed to fulfil my mother’s dream and to repay my sponsors.”
Though she reached the peak on Monday 11am, due to the bad communication system, her mountaineering agency could be informed only on Wednesday, after she had reached the safety of the Everest base camp. When she returns home, Tine Mena, who is unemployed, says she wants to start an adventure camp. “Arunachal has everything,” she told TNN. “You can trek there, go rafting or climb mountains. But there is no one to teach people to do these things. I am glad I have the skill now to do something.” She has already been promised support by a state MLA who says it will provide job opportunities to hundreds of young people in the state who are sitting idle for lack of opportunities.
Tine Mena was part of an international team that includes two more Indians and a Pakistani. They are now headed for the upper camps, readying to make the final push this week. A second woman from Arunachal Pradesh, Anshu Jamsenpa, 32, is also making the attempt this week.