Budding sports women from Himachal are marking their presence in many disciplines, including some daring adventure sports both at the national level and international levels also. Aakriti Heer, the 20 year old mountaineer from Suliali village of Kangra is one such daredevil, who on July 24, 2014 did scale ‘Elbrus’ the highest mountain in the Alps and in all of Europe.
It was her dream to represent her country by hoisting the flag at the very top that attracted her towards mountaineering. In order to make this dream true, she joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarakhand in 2012.
She became the youngest Indian girl to climb the highest peak in Russia and made it to the Limca Book of Records. But it was not that easy to reach such heights, she had to cross numerous obstacles in this journey.
She first effectively scaled the Gangotri crest, at 16,000 feet, in Uttarkashi – Uttarakhand, in 2012. This accomplishment propelled her to climb Mount Elbrus that stands tall at 18,510 feet.
But the issue here was the lack of any sponsors. Belonging to a middle-class family, situated in a remote village of Himachal, she had no contacts. There weren’t anyone who could help her out.
It was her father, who took a loan of Rs. 3 lakh and helped her take up the expedition. He has always been supportive of Aakriti in all her decisions right from the beginning.
Another issue she faced was that no Indian guide was ready to accompany her to Elbrus, so she had to take the help of a Russian guide. But the Russian guide didn’t want to see an Indian girl reaching the Mount Elbrus. He attempted to persuade her for dropping all plans to scale Europe’s highest peak but Aakriti was determined and had resolved to do this for the country and did live up to her aspirations.
Aakriti along with a group of four people including Sachi Soni from Rajasthan and Arunima Sinha from Lucknow walked on to face challenges like severely low temperatures, high wind speed, torrential slides, snowfall, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. She survived on only bread, soup and sprouts and climbed under difficult conditions to summit the peak in five days.
Before heading for the mountaineering expedition, home minister Rajnath Singh presented the team the Indian flag, which they did host on the peak.
Aakriti has been honored by a number of social organizations of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Global wrestler Great Khali has also felicitated her. Previous chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had presented her ‘Pride of Himachal’ award.
Her next target is to conquer Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world if the state government extends help in sponsoring my campaign.
“Mountaineering has always been my dream. I now want to climb all seven summits of the world, and I am prepared for the challenge regardless of what it takes,” says Akriti.
Before taking to mountaineering seriously, Aakriti was doing a bachelors course in computer applications from Guru Nanak Dev University. She was good at studies and did top her college in the course. She was also granted with the Best Cadet honor in the Punjab battalion.
Aakriti Heer also aspires to join the administrative services to serve the country.