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Mt Annapurna conqueror Baljeet Kaur is back home in Himachal after defying death at 8,000 metres

Himachal mountaineer Baljeet Kaur

Shimla: Struck dangerously at a height of 8000 metres, in minus 40 degree Centigrade conditions without oxygen support, water or food for more than 48 hours, courageous Himachal mountaineer Baljeet Kaur (28) came out alive in what is nothing short of a miracle.

Having conquered Mount Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest peak and defied death, Baljeet was back home at Solan on Saturday, relieved with what she called “vatan Vapsee, Maa ke paas” ( Homecoming, to Maa).

Sharing her experience with media persons at Solan, Baljit said  many of her family call it her  “second birth” as her achievement is being celebrated in the entire town.

Baljit had gone missing on April 18 near Camp IV while descending the Annapurna summit point in Nepal. She was rescued by the Pioneer Annapurna Expedition and admitted to a hospital at Kathmandu the next day.

“ While setting out for the expedition, which I wanted to do without oxygen support, I was aware of the dangers which Mt Annapurna would pose while climbing without oxygen. I had also told my mother about it. Even I had advised her not to pay heed to rumours and should wait for my call, ” she said in replies to queries of media persons.

She also admits that the journey, from the very beginning, had become challenging for her.

The Sherpa she had booked from the agency had deserted her midway. She was promised a replacement, but he lacked experience,  especially in climbing the summit without oxygen. He wanted to rest a while at the base camp.

“ I was asked to go ahead with a porter while the sherpa would follow. The three came together till the base camp on April 15 but she was left only with a porter on April 16 while the sherpa was to follow later. This did not happen, ” she recalled.

While descending from Mt Annapurna, Baljeet had gone missing and there was no radio contact. After which an aerial rescue effort was launched. Finally, the rescue team was able to establish contact with her and organised the evacuation.

“ I had kept rolling from 20 to 30 meters, but thankfully I had a safety ankle. I had even slipped while trying to hold on to the rope in a state of utter fatigue. Yet I kept moving as I had Gurbani on my phone, which I played,” recalls Baljeet

Four days back she had tweeted: “ Mountains have always given me a lot. And, today a new life has been given. I really want to continue my project but I don’t know why today first time a voice has come from inside me to give sometime to the mountains.”

She thanks everyone who stood by her through difficult times and prayed for her safety and homecoming as proud daughter of her soil.