Thirty six-year-old mountaineer Mousumi Khatua from Nadia’s Kalyani scripted history on Monday, scaling Mount Damavand – the highest volcanic peak in Asia. At 5,671 metres, it is the highest peak in Iran.
Around 2.23pm on Monday, a message flashed from Moushumi on her friend Dipanjan Das’s cellphone – “I reached the Mt Damavand summit at 12.40pm (Iran time).” “She made it to the peak,” Dipanjan jumped in joy after anxiously waiting for over six hours. “I was anxious as weather changes frequently there and visibility is quite poor at times,” Dipanjan said.
An alumnus of Burdwan University and a software professional in Bangalore, Mousumi reached camp I on Friday. On Saturday they were at the camp III at 4,220 metres trying to acclimatise with the fast-changing weather. While ascending, she gained altitude very fast and started throwing up. She took a day’s rest before making it to the summit. Meanwhile, a co-climber of the three-member team, Bhaswati Samanta, decided to stay back as she found it difficult to match the pace with the other two.
The southern part of Mt Damavand is the most challenging area, especially during bad weather. According to experts, the southern part can be treacherous as it is impossible to find the guideposts in foggy weather. Mousumi started the final leg of her ascent at 6.30am (Iran time) on Monday with another climber. “We have to do it by 1pm. Else we shall have to return,” she texted Dipanjan using a satellite phone.
After the team crossed 5,400 metres, it got difficult to breathe. “The air was lethal and we could smell the strong sulphur dioxide fumes emanating from the craters. It became even more difficult as we scaled up because of the increase in sulphur dioxide emission near the peak. I felt dizzy. I had to open my sunglass at one point and immediately felt my eyes burn,” wrote Mousumi.
“The bigger challenge was during their descent as the weather deteriorates after 1pm,” Dipanjan added. Mousumi once slipped and skidded down for 15ft while descending.
“We are from a small town where she did not have much exposure to adventure sports. She took it up after she came to Bangalore. This was her first big summit, but I knew she will make it to the top,” said Dinesh Khatua, her father.
Source: Times of India