Minutes before sunrise on Wednesday, Gurgaon residents Ajeet Bajaj and Deeya Suzannah Bajaj became the first father-daughter duo from India to summit Mount Everest. Deeya, 24, reached the summit from the Tibet-China, or the north side, at 4.30 am. Her father joined her 10 minutes later.
“It was my daughter’s dream to reach the summit, and her father wanted to be a part of that journey with her,” Ajeet’s wife Shirly Thomas Bajaj said. “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, however, is not the first record set by Deeya and Ajeet, individually or together. The latter, who has more than 30 years of experience in adventure sports, is also known for being the first Indian to have completed the ‘Polar Trilogy’ — or skiing to the North Pole, the South Pole, and across the Greenland Icecap.
Deeya became the youngest person to undertake the Trans-Greenland Skiing Expedition in May 2011, at the age of 17. In 2012, Ajeet and Deeya became the first Indians to ski across the Greenland Ice Cap.
The preparation for the expedition began a year ago, with the two first watching their diets and building up fitness. They subsequently began undertaking high-altitude climbs, going to Ladakh, France, and Nepal between August 2017 and this February. “They left for this climb on April 10 from India,” Shirly said.