Baljeet Kaur is an Indian mountaineer, who is well known for making many records in the field of mountaineering. In April 2023, Baljeet hit the headlines after she went missing while scaling down from Mount Annapurna in Nepal.
Baljeet Kaur was born on Wednesday, 29 November 1995 (age 27 years; as of 2022) in Palashta Panjrol village, Solan, Himachal Pradesh. Her zodiac sign is Sagittarius. After completing her schooling at Government Senior Secondary School in Mamligh, Himachal Pradesh, Baljeet enrolled at Post-Graduate Degree College in Solan, where she completed her graduation. Baljeet Kaur joined the National Cadet Corps (NCC) as a cadet while she was pursuing her higher education at Post-Graduate Degree College in Solan; she went on to become a Senior Under Officer (SUO), the highest rank a cadet can get.
Later, at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in Darjeeling, she underwent a mountaineering training module. In 2017, she was selected to attend the Republic Day Camp (RDC) organised by the NCC.
She attended the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) in Manali, where she received an A+ grade in the Advance Mountaineering Course in 2017.
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Weight (approx.): 60 kg
Hair Colour: Black with Light Brown highlights
Eye Colour: Light Brown
Body Measurements (approx.): 32-28-32
Baljeet Kaur was born into a Sikh family in Solan, Himachal Pradesh.
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Amrik Singh, is a bus driver working for the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC). Her mother, Shanti Devi, is a homemaker. Baljeet Kaur has three siblings.
Husband & Children
Baljeet Kaur is unmarried.
Baljeet Kaur follows Sikhism.
Early Mountaineering Career with NCC
In an interview, Baljeet said that she had no intentions of pursuing a career in mountaineering; however, after she read about Malavath Purna from Rajasthan, who had climbed the world’s highest summit, Mount Everest, her interest in mountaineering aroused. Talking about it, she said,
I never thought of mountaineering as a career option. In 2014, when I was waiting for my examination results, I came across a newspaper article about a girl from Rajasthan who had climbed Mount Everest. That article inspired me a lot. And that was the beginning of my dream of becoming a Mountaineer.”
In 2015, Baljeet applied to be a part of India’s first NCC Girls Everest Expedition and underwent a rigorous selection procedure. Thereafter, Baljeet attended numerous mountaineering camps organised by the NCC, where she learnt how to climb “Technical Mountains.” As part of the first phase of her selection-cum-training process, Baljeet attended a mountaineering course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in Darjeeling, where she received an A+ grade. In the second phase, she attended a month-long mountaineering course at the High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) in Gulmarg, Kashmir. After completing the selection procedure, Baljeet, along with ten other NCC cadets, was inducted into the mountaineering team of the NCC.
In 2015, she, along with her team, climbed Mount Trishul in Uttarakhand; however, due to bad weather, the team could only climb up to 6,350 metres. In 2016, Baljeet, along with her NCC team, went to Nepal to summit Mount Everest; however, she was unable to reach the peak as her oxygen mask malfunctioned, which forced her to return. While giving an interview, she talked about it and said,
On my final push for the summit of Mt. Everest around 8,548 m I had an issue in my Oxygen mask and the supply of oxygen gradually stopped. Me and my Sherpa did our best to fix the issue but couldn’t succeed. I was just 300m away from the summit of EVEREST but I had to take the decision to abandon my attempt and turned around from 8,548m. I returned with a promise that I’ll come back again to stand on its summit one day.”
Later Mountaineering Career
After failing to reach the top of Mount Everest, Baljeet Kaur returned to India, where she enrolled at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS) in Manali, Himachal Pradesh to pursue an Advance Mountaineering Course in 2017. In the same year, she managed to summit Friendship Peak located in the Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh.
In 2018, she did a skiing course at ABVIMAS. In 2019, with her eyes set on Mount Everest, Baljeet applied for and got shortlisted for the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) Everest Massif Expedition, which was supposed to take place in 2020; however, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expedition was postponed till 2021. On 12 May 2021, Baljeet, along with Gunbala Sharma, summited Mount Pumori, which is 7,161 metres above sea level and unfurled the tricolour atop, thus, becoming the first Indian woman to climb Mount Pumori.
In August 2021, she climbed Mount Kun, situated at 7,077 metres in Suru Valley, Kargil, Ladakh. Baljeet became the first Indian woman to climb Mount Dhaulagiri in October 2021.
On 28 April 2022, she summited Mount Annapurna in Nepal. On 12 May 2022, Baljeet Kaur climbed Mount Kangchenjunga. On 21 May 2022, she hoisted the Indian flag atop Mount Everest. On 22 May 2022, she summited Mount Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world at 8,516 metres.
On 28 May 2022, she climbed Mount Makalu, the fifth-highest mountain in the world at 8,481 metres.
Climbing five eight-thousander summits in thirty days, i.e., from 28 April 2022 to 28 May 2022, Baljeet Kaur set up a record of being the first Indian to do so. In November 2022, she made a record after she summited Mount Manaslu without oxygen. While talking about her experience, Baljeet, in an interview, said,
This climbing season was not easy as there were lots of bad weather conditions throughout with lots of rain at the base camp and heavy snowfall at higher camps. Avalanches added to the difficulty and misery which took some innocent lives of sherpas and also some very well-known climbers. I was also stuck in one of the avalanches between camp3 and camp4. After multiple summit attempts, I and my sherpa Mingma Dai successfully made it to the revered true summit on the 30th of September. I would like to dedicate this summit to all the young and upcoming women mountaineers of India and want to be the inspiration and motivation for them to take mountaineering as a sport both as a passion and profession.”
In April 2023, Baljeet Kaur tried to make a record by climbing Mount Annapurna in Nepal without oxygen. She succeeded in summiting the peak without oxygen; however, while returning to the base camp, she went missing and was presumed dead. As per sources, Baljeet went missing above Camp IV, located 7,300 metres above sea level.
Mount Annapurna 1
(High altitude) pic.twitter.com/g3TuJqKs2i
— Baljeet kaur (@Baljeet11684140) April 9, 2023
In the early hours of 19 April 2023, she sent an emergency SOS message to the base camp following which three helicopters were dispatched by the authorities for conducting a search and rescue operation. Baljeet’s location was triangulated by the authorities with the help of GPS. Upon getting rescued, Baljeet was taken to a hospital in Kathmandu, where she underwent a medical examination.
Awards & Honours
- In 2017, Baljeet Kaur received the Raksha Mantri Padak from the Indian government for partaking in the Mount Everest Expedition in 2016.
- In July 2022, for her feats in mountaineering, Baljeet Kaur was given NCC Achiever Award by the Director General of the NCC Lieutenant General Gurbirpal Singh.
Note: She has won many awards during her service in the NCC.
- First Indian woman mountaineer to summit the Pumori Peak on 12 May 2021.
- First Indian woman mountaineer to climb Mount Dhaulagiri on 1 October 2021.
- First Indian to scale Mount Annapurna (28 April 2022) and Mount Kanchenjunga (May 12, 2022) in 14 days.
- Record of scaling Mount Everest (8848.86 m), the highest mountain on the planet, Mount Lhotse (8,517 m), the fourth highest mountain on the planet, and Mount Makalu (8,485 m), in 7 days.
- First Indian to climb Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse in just 25 hours.
- First Indian woman to scale six eight-thousanders in the shortest period.
- First Indian mountaineer to climb Mount Everest, Mount Annapurna, Mount Lhotse, Mount Makalu, and Mount Kangchenjunga in less than 30 days.
- First Indian woman to climb Mount Manaslu without Oxygen in November 2022.
- Baljeet Kaur is fondly called Bharti by her friends and family.
- Baljeet once revealed that when she was studying in college, she used to work as a house helper in people’s homes to help her family financially. While giving an interview, she said,
After the college hours, I used to work in people’s houses, cleaning and cooking. I knew how to cook a full meal since I was eight years old.”
- Baljeet Kaur has been a part of several acting troupes with whom she participated in numerous stage shows and street plays.
- Baljeet Kaur has been invited to numerous talk shows including TEDx to give motivational speeches.
- In an Instagram post, Baljeet Kaur claimed that she initially learnt about mountaineering from the internet and not from a professional coach as she could not afford a coach due to a lack of money.
- Baljeet Kaur created a world record after she completed the world’s longest 9,490-kilometre relay Marathon in 960 hours.
- In July 2022, an article was featured on Baljeet Kaur in Grehlakshmi.
- Her success mantra is “Always try your luck.”