Arunima Sinha of India is the world’s first female amputee to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
Sinha lost her left leg in a tragic accident while she was boarding a train from her home in Uttar Pradesh to New Delhi.
She told BBC’s Outlook in a recent interview:
“Some thieves tried to snatch valuables and money from the passengers. Nobody was saying anything, nobody was speaking up, nobody was resisting them. I was the only one who resisted them. There were four or five of them. They picked me up and then threw me out of the train.”
After securing a slot in the national volleyball team, Sinha, then 24, was on her way to a job that supposedly funded her competing. She recalled the grim details of her ordeal:
“When I fell on the track, another train hit me. I have no idea what happened after that. I fainted and I don’t know which train had run over my leg. Under my knee my bones had broken so badly that some of them were sticking out of my jeans. I had a broken elbow and I can’t describe how bad my pain was.
“I was lying there the entire night. There were trains passing by, and in the morning, some of the villagers found me and they took me to this hospital in Bareilly.”
The unfortunate event, however, did not pin Sinha down; instead, the loss of a leg motivated her to achieve what seemed impossible at that point: climb the world’s highest mountain.
“When I was undergoing treatment at AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) for four months, I could not do anything on my own. But then one day I decided to climb the Everest,” she said (via DNA).
After training under Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to climb Mt. Everest, Sinha began her expedition on April 1, 2013. She ascended with a prosthetic leg.
Dawa Sherpa, general manager at Asian Trekking, the Nepal-based company that organized her expedition, told the Wall Street Journal in the same year:
“She was definitely slow because of her physical condition. But her mental strength and stamina was extraordinary.”
After 17 hours of toil, Sinha became the first Indian amputee — and the world’s first female amputee — to climb Mt. Everest: 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level.
Sinha has since become an inspiration not only to the amputee community, but to everyone who aims for achievement. She told reporters (via The Indian Express):
“Unless we come out of that comfort zone and plan properly, we cannot see and define our immediate goals… I wanted to tell everyone that I’m on top of the world, to those people who had doubted me and to others who had faith in me. I took off my mask for a while, I couldn’t help.”
Climbing is never a walk in the park, but Sinha plans to scale another mountain in December:
“My objective is to climb six peaks in six continents. I still feel pain in my body at times. I have a plate and a rod inserted.”
In addition to Mt. Everest, Sinha has scaled four peaks to date: Mt Aconcagua in South America, Mt. Elbrus in Europe, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, and Mt. Kosciuszko in Australia.