From Scaling Mountains to Making History, Harshwanti Bisht’s Journey


Harshwanti Bisht is the first female president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF). She aims to build more participation of women in the field of mountaineering.

When Harshwanti Bisht started her journey of mountaineering, not many women were in that field. In fact, her parents even discouraged her from pursuing her dream of mountaineering. They wanted her to do a PhD instead. But Harshwanti Bisht persisted, and they finally agreed to let her fulfill her dream of being a mountaineer.

Today, she is the first female president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF). Harshwanti is in one word a symbol of strength and courage. She along with two other women scaled Nanda Devi, the highest mountain that is wholly within Indian territory in 1981. This trio became the first women to achieve this exceptional feat. Of course, some men had scaled Nanda Devi, but the women accomplishing it was crucial.

In her three-decade-long career, Harshwanti has broken several barriers and moved forward steadfast. It wasn’t an easy task to get appointed as the president of the IMF. She had even lost the position by some votes in the previous years. But that wasn’t a setback. She contested for the post again and took charge in 2021.

On her part, she is glad that more women are climbing mountains, both literally and figuratively. “I was happy when I got elected because that moment wasn’t only for me. It was for all the women who are into mountaineering.” She said in an interview with HerStory.

“I’m hoping that we get to organize more mountaineering expeditions for women this year,” says Harshwanti. “We’ll also contact schoolchildren. We already have school kids on our premises in the Indian Mountaineering Foundation where quite a few girls are coming in for day activities.” Harshwanti’s aim is to increase women’s participation and change the mountaineering landscape in India for them.

-Staff Reporter

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