Just as the sun was rising in the eastern hemisphere, Deeya Bajaj was taking her final steps towards the highest point on earth, and her father, Ajeet Bajaj, was right behind her. On Wednesday, 16 May 2018, the father-daughter duo saw the rising sun from a place where only a small fraction of us will ever set foot—Mount Everest.
Deeya reached the summit at 4:30 a.m. and her father caught up with her, 10 minutes later. They were accompanied by a Sherpa, Sardar Mina Niru. Throughout the journey, right from the base camp, Deeya maintained a live blog of their adventure, giving details about weather, the scenery and their location.
“I saw the sunrise from the top of the world. It was an incredible sight,” exclaims Deeya.
The indomitable duo has become the first Indian father-daughter team to scale Mount Everest, and this journey was also backed by a wish to spread awareness about gender equality.
Shirly Thomas Bajaj, Ajeet’s wife, told the Indian Express, “It was my daughter’s dream to reach the summit, and her father wanted to be a part of that journey with her. Ajeet has always been proud of his daughter and finds the perspective people have about the girl child in India difficult to digest. So, another purpose of this expedition was to call attention to the fact that with the right opportunities, any girl can reach the highest summits.”
This isn’t the first time that climbers are taking the highest pedestal (literally) to spread awareness about gender equality and the right to equal opportunities. Here is The Better India story about a 40-year-old mother who climbed Mount Everest and advocated for girls’ rights.
For Deeya and Ajeet, the idea of scaling Mount Everest together, came as an inspiration from the many adventures they have had together since Deeya was a child.
“Summer vacations for them (Deeya and her sister) meant getting up early in the morning and going for wildlife safaris, scuba diving and trying their hands at other sports,” Shirly told The Hindu.
Shirly is the director of Snow Leopard Adventures in Delhi and Ajeet was awarded the Padma Shri in 2012 for his active contribution to the field of adventure in India. Coming from such an adventurous family, it wasn’t a surprise that Deeya joined her parents’ company after graduating from Cornell University.
This passion from a young age helped Deeya and Ajeet set a record in the Himalayas. However, this is not their first time in setting records, individually or together. Ajeet has been into adventure sports for over three decades now. He was the first Indian to ski to the North Pole, the South Pole and across the Greenland Ice Cap—completing the ‘Polar Trilogy’.
At the age of 17, Deeya became the youngest person to undertake the Trans-Greenland Skiing expedition in May 2011. In the following year, Ajeet and Deeya became the first Indians to ski across the Greenland Ice Cap.
The adrenaline junkies have indeed made their mark in the adventure field. Together, it seems that nothing is impossible for the duo—neither the extreme northern or southern points of the planet, nor the highest point on earth.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)