A first glance at Nishat Majumdar, wouldn’t say a lot; especially not the fact that she conquered the most difficult peak in the world! The humility shown by the first Bangladeshi woman to conquer Mount Everest was perhaps an additional quality that further blooms her achievement. A calm-looking Nishat, wouldn’t give you the impression of a celebrity; she’d more likely represent the growing number of modern Bangladeshi women.
“It was a difficult task, never thought I’d make it,” she says, as she recalls the struggles that she had to fight for her achievement. “There were many deafening moments and I almost lost my life out there, but at the end, the feeling that you get once you reach the top… it was all worth it.” Nishat, who holds a Masters degree in Accounting from the City College, currently works for The Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA); a job that hardy compliments her passion for climbing.
“In 2003, I climbed the peak of Keokradong in Bandarban. The Bangladesh Astronomical Association there arranged a programme to encourage young climbers. That was when I actually decided to take this up seriously,” she explains.
Like every other child, it was Nishat’s dream to go on an adventure and do something different in order to reach the limelight. She was inspired by many famous people. “I never thought I could actually climb the Everest. For me it was a passion and a good pastime. It was like a new-found love. The feeling that I could reach the top of a mountain is just brilliant,” she adds.
The path to Everest however, was not simple. It took Nishat almost ten years of preparation before she attempted to climb the Everest. She joined the Bangladesh Mountaineering and Trekking Club (BMTC) in late 2003 and ever since then went on expeditions with the other members of the organisation.
She received official training from in 2007 at the Darjeeling Mountaineering Club in India. Ever since then, she scaled a number of peaks. She climbed the ‘Singu Chuli’ of the Himalayas in 2008, following which, she took part in a number of expeditions. She also took part in the Manaslu peak expedition in 2011.
Having gained enough experience and getting used to the cold temperatures of the Himalayas, Nishat finally decided to go for the most difficult peak of them all. “It was quite scary. There were many points during the climb when I questioned myself. Was I ready? Did I take a bad decision? There was always a game playing in my mind,” she adds.
In addition to the pressure of climbing the highest peak in the world, Nishat also faced a number of devastating accidents during the climb that almost took her life. One such accident took place during the initial stages of her climb. An avalanche had caught Nishat and almost threw her into a huge crevasse— a gaping hole between ice sheets. There have been many cases which saw climbers fall into crevasses and never come out. Luckily, for Nishat, she was just metres away from one.
“The avalanche took place away from us and I didn’t expect it to come hit me so fast. It lasted for a while and drove me away from my climbing path. When I hit the ground, I initially thought that I fell into a crevasse and started shouting for my life! After a few minutes though, I removed my goggles and realised that I was safe and didn’t fall into any hole,” narrates the climber.
Nishat, suffered minor injuries from that fall and always had the choice to go back. But that wasn’t to be. “That fall only made me feel more determined to reach the top. It felt like, nothing could stop me then,” she claims. The avalanche injured many other climbers who were trekking along with Nishat. Some of them had to be taken back to the base camp, she recalls. There were several other dangers that Nishat and her team had to avoid.
Having battled all the obstacles in her way, Nishat finally pierced her way to the top of the mountain on May 19, 2012 and made it a historical day for Bangladesh. “You obviously can’t describe the feeling. It was painful, it was a relief… it was powerful… everything put together,” recalls Nishat.
Having achieved something that not many people in Bangladesh would have even dared to have attempted, Nishat has built a platform that encourages the people of Bangladesh to continue dreaming. “My family supported me a lot and I hope this achievement can encourage other people to follow their dreams and not merely go into the most commonly traveled paths,” she says.
Her last statement perhaps best describes the kind of lives that a large number of people in this country are compelled to spend. With societal and monetary pressure driving many talented people to go into the most traditional paths, a number of people have been driven away from their actual calling.
One hopes that Nishat’s achievement can help renew the people’s ability to follow their passion and achieve what THEY want to, rather than following the society’s call. And just like Nishat, we at the Amader Kotha hope that her achievement can start a ‘Domino Effect’ in society.