There are a lot of sequences in Kalpana Maharjan’s attempt to climb the Mt. Everest. Maharjan’s first attempt was not successful. She landed into coma while scaling and was airlifted to the capital for treatment. She was under medication in Sumeru hospital in her coma state for 7 days. She only remembers the point where she was put into the helicopter and rescued. “It was like getting up from a sleep, the next morning,” she recalls. But her strong determination to climb again the world’s highest peak had not collapsed. Her son was just three years old, when she made her first attempt. He came to know about his mother when he overheard his grand mother talking about her to a relative. Until then they had lied her saying she had been busy at her work.
Why the fire
Kalpana was better known as a tourism journalist earlier. As a tourism journalist, she had an opportunity to visit many tourism destinations in Nepal. Once she visited Lwang ghalel village in Pokhara. A thought came to her mind that her own villages in Lalitpur of Kathmandu also were extremely prosperous in culture, lifestyle, tradition along others. ‘Why not promote our own village and rich Newari settlements, still with their natural beauty,’ was the thought that kept on disturbing her until her back journey to the valley. But at the same time identity crises also started pricking her. Who would listen to her ? Her then state and name was not enough. So she quickly planned to become someone who would be inspiration. As soon as she returned home, she arranged for a meeting in the village. She strongly believes that the actual tourism is outside ring road in the capital too. “Journalist like me are many, but the point is have we done justice to our own village tourism and it’s culture is a question,” she raises.
As a mother
In 2012, Journalists Association for Tourism-Nepal(JAT-Nepal) had organized an Inter media wall climbing competition for journalists. That time she was a mother of a three month child. “I kept my child at a relatives place to take part in the climbing. But was determinant to win some position for sure because had separated my child for a while to take part in the competition. I wanted my effort to be fruitful for my child’s sake. When my son grew up he would be proud if I succeeded,” she recalls with a smile. And she stood first ! It was beyond her expectation. Then a thought began revolving around within her mind that had she got a chance, she could climb real mountains too.
The first plan
At an international film festival the same year, she had made commenced the plan to climb some mountain. But they had not finalized the name of a mountain to climb. Meanwhile, she shared with her friends that they should go for Mt. Everest. “I simply thought why should we go for others when the world’s highest peak stands in our own country?” she narrates. So they decided to to head towards Solukhumbu, where is a major hub for mountaineers from across the globe. But the preparatory period was very tuff with the fund raising campaign, training and facing the media. They climbed the Merapics in Solukhumbu, as is the practice before heading for the Everest expedition. Some people even change their minds after the hardship on the Merapics itself. And it was from Merapics itself that she was rescued in her first attempt.
First successful attempt
“The First Women Journalists Everest Expedition-2018″ made headlines not only in Nepalese media, but world wide. Four young women journalists involved in different facets of country’s journalism have also become the first team of journalists to script a history by successfully scaling the world’s highest peak. Kalpana Maharjan along with Rosha Basnet of Rastriya Samachar Samiti, Rojita Buddhacharya of Nepal Television and Deuralee Chamling, a freelancer, scaled the mountain. Another member Priya Laxmi Karki of News 24 Television, however, abandoned her bid after reaching Camp III. FWJEE-2018 team scaled Mt Everest under the banner of the Federation of Nepali Journalists with a slogan ‘Unified Voice for Equity’. The team had also conducted an intensive mountaineering training in Dolakha to prepare for their spring expedition on Mt Everest. They had climbed Mt Ramdung (5,925 m) and Mt Yalung-Ri (5,630 m) in the Rolwaling Valley, earlier.
After the first failure she knew her family would not be ready to permit her for the Everest again. “It was through media my husband came to know about it. I had lied him that I was just co-ordinating,” she reveals happily. But one person knew the details about her expedition. Yes, her son knew about it. “He is very close to me and I share all the things with him, ” she adds. Her father was upset about it. The gentle man declared that she had died for him. However, she had the confidence that everything would be well and fine after her success. So she left all the worries and concerns behind at Kathmandu and left for her snow journey. But she was sick at the basecamp. ” At that moment, I told myself that you cannot fall sick every time during the expedition. It was severe to the extend that my guide had to feeding me. But I vowed myself that the rest would not extend three days. And I got up to continue my dream. They came down again for acclimatization at the base camp. Her son would call her and ask about the distance left to conquer the peak, while she laid down on the bed. “Mom did you reach the top?” he would ask innocently. “Why are you not climbing fast,” he would cross question sometimes. She had to explain that it was because of acclimatization, that they needed to get down to the base again and climb back. They had left the base camp at 2 am for the climb. After ten and half hour they reached camp 1. They had reached the short destination in time. She could not believe herself that they had reached camp 1 so fast. They were carrying fried rice and had expected to settle somewhere in between and eat it taking a rest. But they had reached their short destination with a surprise. With every foot forward, she would gather a lot of determination and stamina, because one thing she had in her mind that the journey was easy. After camp 4, their guide Sonam Sherpa told them that they were about to reach the Hilary step. She remembered her father and his anger. She began to imagine how happy he would be to see her back after the victory. For a moment she had reached the zero stage. And nothing further came to her mind. It was empty but peaceful. She had reached the place of her dream. At airport her son was eating impatiently for her. Her husband, mother-in-law along other relatives were waiting too. Her father was not among the crowd. “When I went to meet my father after a week. He was not home. When he came the first thing he uttered was asking about my legs?” she gets emotional “I thought he was asking about my scooty. But actually, he wanted to touch my legs” How could she allow him to touch her feet. Tears rolled down her eyes.
Second successful attempt
In 2019, when she scaled the Everest from the other side, her slogan was: “Kalpana Maharjan back to Everest a campaign against child marriage 2019” After scaling the Everest for two times from both the sides; now has been actively involved in many social activities, motivational talks and media. So Kalpana Maharjan is a name who once stood from her failure to success. She is now the first Nepalese journalist in the world to climb Mt. Everest from both the sides. Coincidentally, she climbed Mt. Everest from Nepali side on the same day a year earlier in 2018.