Sangeeta Bahl — Meet the oldest Indian woman to scale Mt Everest at the age of 53
Former Miss India finalist, Sangeeta was also the first-ever woman from Jammu and Kashmir to climb Mount Everest in 2018.
Breaking barriers seems to be a niche for Sangeeta Bahl. An idea that she really took to and which was first proposed by her husband was to take up trekking on a regular basis.
The first peak that she scaled was Mt Kilimanjaro in 2011. This began successive climbs in her seven summit tour of Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Vinson, Mt. Acongua, Mt. Kosiousko and finally Mt. Everest in 2018. She scaled all these peaks along with her husband and they even became the third and fourth Indians to scale Mount Vinson in Antarctica.
It involved an immense amount of training for each mountain considering that each peak had its own course and climate to acclimatize to. While her feat of scaling Mt Everest is itself a major achievement, by doing so she also became the oldest woman in India at the age of 53 and the first-ever woman from Jammu and Kashmir to achieve the feat back in 2018.
However a lot many of her achievements have been a result of certain incidents that took place in her life.
Miss India finalist to Air hostess
It was back in 1985 that Sangeeta reached the finals of the Miss India pageant. Yet, it was her will to pursue something bigger and better that took her to the aviation sector. She became an air hostess for several airlines, notably Kuwait Airways, Thai Airways and Emirates where she became a cabin crew director.
Her stint as a cabin crew member really changed her life. She was at the receiving end of discrimination meted out by the male-dominated industry and gradually came about to pursuing an executive MBA degree to put down a lot many of the stigmas associated with her career. She said in an interview to News 18, “in the classes, other executive honchos, mostly male would make fun of my mini-skirts. In three years, my degree shut them up for good”.
Founder of India's first image consulting company
Another idea struck her post-retirement from the aviation sector that resulted in her founding one of India’s first-ever image consulting companies. Impact Image Consulting is her brainchild and has been up and running for the past 13 years. Sangeeta Bahl wishes to break down stereotypes and mental barriers through her actions which she feels is everyone's Everest to Climb.
Along with giving people a chance to showcase themselves in pageant contests such as Femina India, Sangeeta Bahl also is a staunch believer in a sustained amount of fitness and physical fitness throughout one’s life. According to her, any outdoor activity can give people a healthy break from the monotony of their jobs and is especially necessary after the age of 40. As of today, she continues to pursue her passion for trekking alongside her work life with equal vigour and focus.
There is just one relation between climbing mountains, starting your own company and breaking gender stereotypes that take place at the workplace. It is the will power to make a sustained effort and with a point to prove. Sangeeta Bahl is one such woman who has been the master of all trades and continues to scale great heights in her life, both literally and metaphorically.