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Summit of Spirit: Arunima Sinha's Triumph from Tragedy to Mount Everest

Updated: May 13

Not Everyone Is Born Into Hardship

One of the aspects of life that set Arunima Sinha apart from others who struggled to succeed was that she was born into a normal family and had a normal upbringing.

Arunima Sinha’s father was an engineer in the military, while her mother worked as a health supervisor in a government primary health centre. Her childhood was normal as she graduated from the Government Girls Inter College in Akbarpur, Utter Pradesh.

When she was three, her father died but this did not seem to upset the family dynamic as her brother-in-law stepped in to become the new patriarch of the family. Life continued and Arunima continued to pursue her passions.

A Tragedy That Changed Her Life

Arunima Sinha was an excellent athlete making it to the national level in volleyball and she loved playing football as well as cycling. Upon her brother-in-law’s urging she tried to get a job with the paramilitary but all of her applications were for naught.

In 2011 she applied for a position in the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and a mistake in the call letter she received from the CISF began the chain of events that changed her life.

Not wanting to lose out on this employment opportunity Arunima left on the train for Delhi to correct the error. It was on this train, that robbers tried to take her purse and necklace.

When she resisted, the robbers threw her off the train. The result of this action severely injured Arunima and not being able to move off the tracks a subsequent train ran over her leg.

It had to be amputated but that did not come till later as up to 40 trains passed by in the night and not one stopped to offer Ms. Sinha aid. Ms. Sinha could easily have let this tragedy ruin her life but she didn’t.

The All-Important Decision

Her success as a volleyball player gave Ms. Sinha a fighting spirit that would not let challenges or tragedy stand in her way to success. As an amputee, she did not want people to look with pity on her so she made an all-important decision.

She decided to not give up but to fight back. With few options, she decided that becoming a mountain climber was her best way to prove herself. After she made this decision, she worked hard over the next two years to train for the biggest climb and achievement of her life.

Ms. Sinha did not take time off for Sundays, Diwali, or Holidays as she spent her time training in the mountains of Srijani Ganguly. Her goal to prove herself was to eventually climb Mount Everest.

Finally, the time came for her to take her next step in proving herself.

The Climb Up Mount Everest

Even with her training, this was not an easy climb. Her excitement at reaching just the base camp caused her to lose her balance and hurt herself. But this injury was not going to put her off of her quest.

The trek up the side of the mountain was not easy. At times there were no ladders to help her make the climb and she had to jump across the gaps. One mistake and not only her quest would have ended but her life would be gone as well.

For Ms. Sinha, the going was slow as she had to crawl in many places holding up the line of climbers behind her. One man was always pressuring her to move faster and it got to the point where Ms. Sinha found a spot and stepped aside so the man could move more quickly.

These were not the only challenges Ms. Sinha faced on her climb. She had to go at a slower pace which meant two things. One, she was losing daylight, and two, she was running out of oxygen. These two challenges appeared just as she was getting close to the summit.

Her sherpa guide wanted to go back and make the attempt the next day but Ms. Sionha felt that she could not do that. She told the guide that she would climb alone if he wanted to return to the camp.

She then took steps to continue her ascent and found that her sherpa guide would not leave her even though he wanted to go back. It took the two another two hours before they reached the peak.

Once they did, Ms. Sinha became the first female amputee to climb Mount Everest to the top. This was a great achievement considering all the challenges she had to overcome.

After Mt. Everest

Ms. Sinha did not do a one-and-done mountain climbing expedition. While she proved her detractors wrong, she was not finished climbing mountains. Her loss of a leg did not dampen her spirits and she set out to climb even more mountain peaks around the world.

Other mountains she successfully climbed were: Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Elbrus (Europe), Mount Kosciuszko (Australia), Aconcagua (South America), Denali (North America), and Vinson Massif (Antarctica).

Her last famous climb was Vinson Massif in Antarctica and that came 8 years after her tragic accident.

Her Other Achievements And Goal

Now that she has conquered the world’s highest peaks, Ms. Sinha has set her sights on achieving a new goal. She wants to open a free sports academy for poor and disabled people.

The money she receives is given towards achieving this worthy goal. After making most of her climbs she was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2015 and the Tenzing Norgay Highest Mountaineering Award in India same as the Arjun Award.

Ms. Sinha has already named her academy- Shaheed Chandra Shekhar Vikalang Khel Academy. Like her climb to Mount Everest, she is dedicated to this cause and donates the money she receives from her awards to make this dream a reality.

You may not be the first amputee to climb your own peaks but you have good inspiration to help you make it to the top. Ms Sinha has set an example for all.


 Image Credits:, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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