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Mountaineering is cakewalk for Bhavani who climbed Mount Elbrus in record time

By Florine Roche

Mangaluru, Mar 12: ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’ is an old proverb many are familiar with. Nothing including the infamous deluge that wrecked Kodagu last year could deter Bhavani T N of Kodagu from achieving her set goal.  

This chirpy girl, alumni of St Agnes College, Mangaluru climbed Mount Elbrus, the tallest peak in Europe in just over 8 hours. In doing so she became the fastest Indian woman to scale the 18,510 feet (5642 meters) peak, the 10th most prominent mountain in the world.  

Elbrus is one among the seven summits (tallest peaks in each continent) which most elite mountaineers aspire to summit as part of the Seven Summit challenge. Bhavani achieved this feat in October last year along with four other men from Mexico, France, Romania and a local Russian that formed the team that accomplished the rare feat. However, she reached the summit ahead of the men in her team and that is indeed a remarkable achievement for the young mountaineer.

She was recently in Mangaluru to take part in the College annual day and in an exclusive interview to, Bhavani talked about her passion, her dreams and the challenges she underwent in the course and also her future. Of course, the satisfaction of having made it to Mount Elbrus is writ large on her face. Though it is four months since she climbed Mount Elbrus, she is still excited and her narrative gives an impression as if her achievement is just a few days old.

On hindsight as she recalls the events prior to her journey and quips, “I almost did not make it to Russia as the Kodagu deluge had affected my father’s estate badly and there was uncertainty about the financial arrangement for the trip. My parents supported all my earlier climbs in India and despite the huge losses caused by the floods they arranged the money and whatever little I had earned as an instructor was spent on this trip. Without their support I would not have been able to realize my dream,”

That Bhavani made her climb to Mount Elbrus during the off season is another aspect of her admirable triumph.   Bhavani came to know about the expedition to Elbrus from a friend and   lost no time to decide she wanted to be part of it. Initially she got in touch with an Indian company   which did not fructify as it was offseason. She rented the required gears for mountaineering in the winter from Indian Mountaineering Foundation in Delhi and then she went to Russia heeding to her friend’s advice.


Since it was winter there were not many takers to undertake the expedition to Mount Elbrus. But luck was on her side and as she was talking to her friend in a café in Russia discussing possibilities of the summit she overheard a group of four men talking about their plan to summit Mount Elbrus. Bhavani took courage and talked to them expressing her desire to be part of the team and yes, she was fortunate as the men accepted her to be a part of the team.   As there was a local Russian in the team, it helped them plan the entire expedition in a better way. The team underwent just three days training in Russia before tackling the climb and succeeded in their journey.   Most climbers undertake the expedition at night before the sunlight and Bhavani and team started the journey on October 18 at midnight. On October 19 at 9.30 am she was at the top of the snow-clad peak. Bhavani   is a fitness freak and also follows a strict diet, which she says has helped her attain success in her chosen field.

Naturally, it wasn’t a tough task for Bhavani who has scaled 7 Indian peaks in the last 5 years ever since she realized her passion for mountaineering. She is now getting trained in skiing as she wants to ski down the peaks to become the first Indian to do so. To do that she has to undergo a two-month course in New Zealand which is quite expensive and she has approached government of Karnataka and also the corporate sector for financial help. To do the record, she needs a certified ID which is provided only by New Zealand. But so far there has been no response from either of them. However, Bhavani is not the one to give up so easily and would continue her efforts to knock at the doors of anyone willing to help her or to self fund if that does not work out.

Bhavani is now working as a mountaineering instructor in the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. Apart from getting trained in skiing she is also preparing seriously for her forthcoming Short Service Commission (SSC) examination in her bid to join the Indian Armed Forces as she is determined to choose it as a career.   The recent news that women recruited in armed forces in SSC   to get opportunity for permanent employment will come in handy for Bhavani to get into the army as a career.  

Bhavani who did her plus to in Bhagamandala in Coorg decided to shift base to Mangaluru for her graduation and joined St Agnes College. This decision gave a new twist to her life making her what she is today.   At St Agnes she got a chance to join the NCC   and slowly the introvert girl had found the rhythm of her life. She found a mentor in Chandraprakash of NCC who spotted her talent and suggested she attend a one month mountaineering camp in Uttarakand. Watching the Ranbir/Deepika starrer Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani was the motivating factor to go to the camp, she says.


At the camp she was dissuaded   by many saying that being a south Indian she may not withstand the cold conditions and looking at her size (thin) many suggested that she may not be able to carry the load of 20 kg while climbing. However, she proved them wrong and along with a Ladakhi girl she was the first one to reach the top and from the camp she secured   “A” grade that bolstered her confidence. Bhavani then did a basic and advanced course in mountaineering and she has also done expeditions   with the defence personnel.

After her graduation she went to the North and joined the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjiling as a teaching professional. Apart from teaching she is also getting herself ready for the next goal she has set for herself.  As a passionate mountaineer she wants to take up the 7 summit challenge and the expedition to Mount Elbrus was the first step in that direction.  

Bhavani said that her parents Tekkada Nanjunda and mother Parvathi have supported her passion. She recalled that her father told her not to give up the opportunity knocking at her doorstep and she said he supported her financially despite the family getting badly affected   due to the floods in Kodagu.  

Over these years Bhavani has transformed from an introvert into an extrovert and has demonstrated that nothing is impossible for women if they make up their mind and strive hard to achieve that. And she reiterates “there is no shortcut to success”.

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Comment on this article

  • FLORA D'SOUZA, Kalmady - Jerimeri (Mumbai)

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Great... Hearty Congrats and God bless.... She made our Mangalore proud...

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sudarshan Pai, Mangalore

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Great achievement. Hearty congratulations to you. Wish you all the Best for your future Adventure activities.

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Reva, Mangalore

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Heartiest congratulation Bhavani...Would love to meet me on your next visit to Mangalore in person or at Youth Hostel Mangalore so that you can inspire Manalore trekkers. Best wishes for you future summits ...
    Thank you Florine mam for covering inspiring article....

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shivu Naik, Kundapur

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Bravo girl. Well done. Congratulations

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Greg D'Cunha, Bejai New Road/ Doha Qatar

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Proud of you Bhavani. Congratulations on your hard work and achievements. You've made our Mangalore very proud. Being an NCC cadet, you've proved your skills and ability. A lot many will be trained from you and will be surely excelled. Good luck to all your future events.

    DisAgree Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shilpa, mangaluru

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Wow... Gr8 Bhavani... We are really proud of u.. Keep going...

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Tue, Mar 12 2019

    Mangaluru is breaking all World Records ...

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

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