Akriti Heer, resident of a small village of Suliali located in Himachal Pradesh, was only 20 when she achieved recognition as the youngest Indian woman to have scaled Mount Elbrus at the time. She hoisted the tricolour on the mountain peak on July 24, 2014. But Akriti’s journey till such heights was not an easy one.
“There are many sports in India that many people dream of excelling at. But my dream has always been to represent the country by hoisting its flag at the very top. That is how I see mountaineering and dream about it,” she says.
Coming from a middle class family, this was a very costly dream for Akriti. She was in college when she joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarakhand in 2012.
This was where she tasted success for the first time at the age of 18 by climbing to the 16,000 feet high base camp of Kedar Dome mountain peak, which is a part of the Gangotri group of peaks. That rush of happiness and satisfaction made Akriti want to climb Mount Elbrus next. The highest peak of Europe, Mount Elbrus stands tall at 18,510 feet. But the problem here was the lack of any sponsors because Akriti did not have any contacts, and coming from a remote village, there weren’t many people who could help her out.
But her father, who had been supporting Akriti in all her decisions right from the start, decided to take a loan of Rs. 3 lakh and help her take up the expedition.
In a group of four people including Sachi Soni from Rajasthan and Arunima Sinha from Lucknow, Akriti marched on to face challenges like extremely low temperatures, high wind speed, avalanches, snow fall, and more. Today, she is the star of her village. “A rockstar,” she says.
In February 2016, her name was included in the Limca Book of Records. She was honoured by many organizations and the former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Prem Kumar Dhumal conferred the Pride of Himachal award on her.
“Mountaineering has always been my dream. I now want to climb all seven summits of the world, and I am ready for the challenge no matter what it takes,” says Akriti who is currently living in her village and preparing for civil service exams.
Prior to this, she was doing her Bachelor of Computer Application course in Guru Nanak Dev University. Her university was located at a distance of 45 km from her place and Akriti had to take a bus to cover the distance every day. But she never gave up – neither on her passion, nor on her dreams. She was also the topper in her college and was awarded with the Best Cadet award in the Punjab battalion. We hope her dream of representing the country from such great heights is fulfilled.