Rita Mathur, a 66-year-old woman from Hyderabad, was happily enjoying her life with her husband and family. A Science graduate from Miranda House, Delhi University, Rita got married at 21 to an Army officer. Being the wife of an army officer, Rita travelled to different places across the country, but mountains always had her heart.
After several hikes across the country, she felt a little incomplete. That’s when she decided to go on an Everest Base Camp hike. Yes, a 66-year-old woman dared to dream, and turned it into reality.
BUT HOW DID SHE DO IT?
Rita told us, “At 66, I decided to join The Himalayan Club on Facebook. There I read about people doing treks to the Everest Base Camp.”
Rita Mathur during the trek
Not others, Rita herself was sceptical about her journey that lay ahead of her. She continued to ask a lot of experienced people whether she could complete the journey. It came to her surprise that everyone was confident about her completing the journey. “I received very positive answers. Everyone told me 'yes, you can do it' and that age should not be a concern. All you need is practice.”
Rita was now ready to do whatever it took to reach her destination. “It required a lot of hard work,” she said.
"I used to walk a lot. I started walking on inclined surfaces. I was preparing well but then the pandemic happened. This delayed the process, but I continued to prepare myself to sustain the pace," she said.
Other than preparing herself physically, she continued to stuff her mind with enough information that helped her execute the trek with ease. She said, “I read a lot of books, blogs and contacted many people on social media. It is best to learn from others’ experiences. And younger people guided me well.”
Your body needs a tremendous amount of strength to complete a trek. Therefore, a good diet is a necessity. “Thanks to Corona. It made us consume so many vitamins, which helped me in the long run. I also consulted a friend of mine who is a doctor. She gave me multivitamins and diet-related tips that helped me gain strength from inside out.”
THE 21-DAY JOURNEY
Rita reached Kathmandu on October 12, 2021. The trek began from Lukla, Nepal. “I had a wonderful porter and guide with me. Porters are the unsung heroes. The people of Nepal were so helpful and encouraging. Everyone kept saying bas pahunch gaye, Aunty aap pahunch jaaoge.”
Rita Mathur with a child from Nepal
“During the trip, it snowed midway; but the skies were very clear. At times it seemed like all four seasons were stuffed into a day: it was very cold, hot, hotter and snowfall, all in a day. Snowfall, wind chill, blinding sun, slippery trek routes and walking on moraine were a challenge.”
Health issues like back pain, knee pain, hypertension or fatigue are quite common among people above 60. But adequate preparation and a nutritious diet helped Rita trek effortlessly.
“There was extreme fatigue at times, shallow breathing and aching feet. But when you are in the moment and your destination is right in front of you, you forget the pain,” she said, excited.
On October 22, Rita reached the Everest Base Camp, which was at 17,600 feet (5,364 m) above the sea level. “When I was about to reach my destination, my elation swept away all tiredness and difficulties. Having imagined this moment in my dreams, when I was finally there, it felt like an unreal reality,” said Mathur.
Rita Mathur at the Everest Base Camp
AGE SHOULD NOT BE YOUR EXCUSE!
In the era of 30-Under-30s, where achievements in your youth is celebrated, Rita is an inspiration for just shattering that stereotype in addition to many more. A 66-year-old homemaker not only dared to dream but followed every single step, patiently, to complete it. “Even during the trek, many people asked about my age. Some even said aap toh humari mummy se bhi badi hai (you're older than my mom)! Many clicked pictures with me.”
"Age should not be a barrier. Hiking or trekking are often considered for the younger generation only. People of my age are too scared to even think about this," she added.
FAMILY SUPPORT MATTERS
She explained, "It all begins at home. My family was very motivating, but not initially. They were worried and scared of the idea. I had to talk them through it and convince them. We women start to ignore our needs and desires after an age. An open discussion helped my family understand."
After coming back from the trek on November 2, Rita felt stronger and confident than ever before. “While descending from the Everest Base Camp, I felt as if I had legs of iron and altitude-strengthened lungs. On reaching home, it was a euphoric feeling!”
What's next for Rita? Maybe Kilimanjaro.