At close to 50 years of age, Seema’s self-assessment smacks of climber’s taste for realism. Climbing is an activity that broaches no room for under-playing and over-playing narrative. There is only one thing that happens in its black and white world – and that is, what happened. Some people embrace climbing for self-perception by exacting ethic. Seema would seem one of them. She does not see herself as a gifted climber. She sees herself more as an endurance athlete capable of handling altitude and the strain that accompanies climbing / mountaineering. Plus there is that determination born from having endured much in life, which she knows, she can channelize into her outdoor projects. The bulk of her visits to the mountains so far have happened with Dinesh. Following Pindari Glacier and Stok Kangri (20,082 feet) in 2007, they attempted Chamser Kangri (21,725 feet) in 2008. In 2009, they trekked to Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal and climbed Island Peak (20,305 feet). The following year they attempted Mera Peak (21,247 feet). That year – 2011 – they also made another attempt to climb Chamser Kangri. In 2013, they did the Annapurna Base camp Trek in Nepal. Completing it inspired an idea – why not trek to the base camp of some of the world’s 8000 meter-peaks? While that idea played in the mind, they proceeded to France and hiked in Chamonix followed by a trip to Malaysia, to climb Mt Kinabalu (13,435 feet).
In 2014, they reached the base camps of Cho Oyu and Manaslu. They also hiked in the Dolomites and climbed in the Austrian Alps. 2015 saw both of them hiking towards Kangchenjunga from the Sikkim side. Soon after this hike they proceeded to Ladakh for a trek across three high passes there and followed it up with a climb of Elbrus (18,510 feet) in Russia. In April 2016, they trekked to Kangchenjunga Base Camp from the Nepal side (they did both the routes available for this trek); same year in October, they did the Dhaulagiri Circuit Trek via French Pass and Thapa Pass. 2017 was Seema’s most prolific year in terms of mountain visits. She did seven trips in all including visits to Ladakh, ascent of Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet) in Tanzania, a climb of Mt Shasta (14,179 feet) in the US and a visit to Yosemite, the home of big wall climbing. In April that year they also did a spring climb of Patalsu (13,845 feet) near Manali; in May they did a trek with shepherds towards Indrahar and Toral Pass near Dharamshala.
The focus in many of these climbs and treks wasn’t harvesting superlatives to talk about. It was to challenge oneself and become more efficient in the mountains. In December 2017, the duo spent ten days in Ladakh preparing themselves for an attempt on Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest peak in both western and southern hemispheres. In early 2018, Seema successfully climbed Aconcagua (22,837 feet). Yet again she is very realistic in her self-assessment. She acknowledges that although Elbrus, Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua entail altitude – and in the case of Elbrus and Aconcagua, the need to cope with harsh weather conditions – she was on guided expeditions. She had others showing her the way; others watching out for her. Further, such commercial trips spare you the need to do everything yourself. Coming up in 2019 is Denali (20,310 feet) in Alaska, North America’s highest peak with ascent from base to top comparable to Everest and polar weather conditions for company.