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‘Don’t hesitate to push boundaries’: Woman who scaled 6,000-m mountain peak while on her period

With her next goal being to climb the world's highest peak, Prakriti Varshney said the Mount Ama Dalbam expedition was a stepping stone in that direction.

Written by Shreya Das | Kolkata |
Updated: December 11, 2021 11:35:12 am
The young mountaineer waves Indian flag after summitting Ama Dablam in Nepal.

Climbing any mountain is no mean feat, especially if it is over 6,000 metres in height. However, one young woman did just that while being on her period. Sharing her experience online, she hopes that her achievement not only busts myths around menstruation but also inspires other women to take challenges head on.

Prakriti Varshney, a 26-year-old popular travel blogger and Instagram influencer, has been promoting solo travels for a while now. Be it going on road trips in her jeep or trekking to remote mountain towns in India, she has been finding joy in such adventures. In a step further, she recently went on a solo expedition to Mount Ama Dablam (6,812 m) in Nepal. What made the arduous trek more difficult was summitting the peak while braving menstruation cramps.

“To be honest, my periods have never been very painful. While I have heard and seen my friends facing severe cramps, I experienced them for the first time during this trip,” the Delhi woman said over the telephone.

For the three-week expedition to one of the most beautiful peaks in the world, Varshney said that it happened right when she started the final leg of her journey to the summit. “As my period wasn’t even due, I was absolutely unprepared,” she said.

“People say that the menstruation cycle gets affected at such altitudes due to weather and mental stress. For me it was just a bad day as I had been waiting for this day (to reach the summit) for so long.” .

Varshney recalls that on the summit day, she had about 7-8kg weight on her back for a climb for about 16 hours. “We started for our summit push around 11.50 pm and I felt the first cramp around 1 am. Initially, I thought it was due to lack of water. Eventually, it got worse and my lower body became very lethargic.”

She soon figured out the reason behind the cramps.

The 26-year-old informed her sherpa, Phurba, that she wouldn’t be able to continue her journey while on her period. “He didn’t quite understand initially. But when he saw me struggling, he started to help me push through mentally. He told me we will only go till Camp 3 and will decide there,” Varshney said.

After reaching the camp, they rested for about 45 mins before getting ready to start again. “That gave me the time to organise my thoughts and gave me a mental push to climb for another 3-4 hours.”

“I had been waiting for this day for weeks, months if you count ever since I started planning. Giving up was not an option but it felt like my body wasn’t cooperating. It was such a big and important day for me. But God had a different plan,” Varshney said.

Were there any other difficulties other than the menstrual cramps? “The weirdest part is that I couldn’t use either a pad, tampon or menstrual cup because I left it all in my tent.”

Luckily, her flow wasn’t too much. “It was just an unfortunate day, despite that I pulled through and made it to the top with my sherpa. And the most rewarding thing was to be able to see Mt Everest very closely from the summit.”

After enjoying some of the best views that the Himalayas had to offer, she started her journey back and it was only after she reached back to Camp 2 around 7 pm, she finally got to use a menstrual cup. While disposing of tampons or pads would have been tough in such a hostile environment, the young mountaineer stressed how using an eco-friendly solution like the cup meant she didn’t have to dispose of anything which can harm the environment.

“I had climbed the mountain with so much pain and struggle that if I get a chance, I would go again. Probably the most adventurous thing I have done so far,” she said.

In retrospection, she also thinks that the sudden hurdle was a kind of a blessing in disguise. “For me, it made me cross my limits. Like I feel I would not have known how strong I am if this wouldn’t have happened. And I feel, a woman can be as strong as she wants and as fragile too. And we have to embrace both.”

With her next goal being to climb the world’s highest peak, Varshney said the Mount Ama Dalbam expedition was a stepping stone in that direction.

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