Conquering Everest at 55: Entrepreneur Jyoti Ratre shares her gritty experience

Mountaineer Jyoti Ratre has become the oldest Indian woman to conquer Mount Everest. The 55-year-old entrepreneur, who achieved this feat on May 19, speaks about her journey to accomplish her childhood dream.

Sharmila Bhadoria
First Published25 May 2024
Mountain climber Jyoti Ratre becomes the oldest Indian woman to scale Mount Everest on MAy 19.
Mountain climber Jyoti Ratre becomes the oldest Indian woman to scale Mount Everest on MAy 19.

Seven years after being rejected from all mountaineering training institutes in the country due to her age, Jyoti Ratre conquered Mount Everest at 55 and became the oldest Indian woman to do so. Ratre’s journey to accomplish her childhood dream is a reminder to all the people who fear failure due to a ‘late start’.

Jyoti Ratre conquered Mount Everest as part of a 15-member expedition team of 8K Expeditions, led by Bolivian climber David Hugo Ayaviri Quispe on May 19.

Childhood dream to see Mount Everest

Recalling how her childhood curiosity became a force behind her Mount Everest expedition, Jyoti Ratre shared a bleak memory of listening to a political leader’s speech on the radio, which left an indelible impact on her mind.

“I had heard about a leader on the radio who expressed his wish to release his ashes in the Himalayas. This made me wonder what is so special about Everest that people want to go there even after death,” Ratre told Mint in an interview. However, she could not fulfil her dream when she was young due to marriage and her family and business responsibilities.

Started mountain climbing at 48

At the age of 48, Ratre decided to relive her dream and began pursuing mountain climbing by taking a break from her entrepreneurial journey. However, because of her age, Ratre faced many challenges.

“After knowing that most mountaineering institutes do not train people above 42, I started collecting information online and met people who had conquered Everest. I began focusing on increasing my strength by exercising, running, and doing yoga at home,” recalled Ratre.

Ratre’s first attempt to summit Mount Everest in 2023

Jyoti Ratre's first big achievement came when she completed her expedition to Mount Elbrus in Europe in July 2021. Within 39 days, Ratre added another feather to her cap by conquering Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro (5895 metres), on August 15, 2021. Later, she climbed South America’s highest peak, Mount Aconcagua, on January 3, 2023. 

Later in the year, she tried to climb Mount Everest. However, high winds forced her to return at the last moment, when she was just 650 metres away from scaling the peak.

“After days of climbing, when only 650 metres more were left to climb, suddenly the weather deteriorated, and we had to return to Camp 4. Due to bad weather, I had to stop my expedition midway and return,” said Jyoti Ratre.

Mount Everest expedition success

After receiving encouragement from friends and family, Jyoti Ratre decided in January of this year to attempt climbing Mount Everest again. “We were not sure about Jyoti’s expedition this year. But in January, she made up her mind and decided to attempt one more time. Arranging funds and sponsors for this Mount Everest expedition was a big challenge,” said Jyoti Ratres’ husband KK Ratre.

The second attempt to scale Mount Everest was filled with even harder challenges for Ratre, as she had to stay at Lhotse Camp, at 7,800 metres altitude, for four nights due to high wind. In addition, she had to stay for one night at Everest Camp 4 (above 8,000 mt) before the final summit push.

Doodling for mental strength

Amid constant challenges, Jyoti Ratre found solace in doodling while climbing Mount Everest. Sharing the activity's power to keep her mentally strong, Ratre said, “Mount Everest expedition is 60 per cent about mental strength and 40 per cent about physical strength. Doodling is like a meditation for me to regain mental strength.”

 

Doodle created by Jyoti Ratre during Mount Everest expedition

She also shared how doodling during Mount Everest helped her deal with loneliness when it was not possible to communicate with family members regularly.

After scaling the highest mountain in Asia and the world, along with the highest peaks on five continents, Ratre aims to summit Mount Vinson in Antarctica and Denali, also called Mount McKinley, in North America to fulfil her dream of conquering the highest peaks on all continents of the world.

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