Karishma Verlekar Makes History with Solo Expedition to Mt. Mera Peak

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PANAJI: Breaking barriers and conquering new heights, Karishma Verlekar, a young Goan professional and mother of two, has made mountaineering history for a Goan female. In a remarkable feat of courage and determination, Karishma has become the first Goan female to conquer the daunting 6476-meter Mt. Mera Peak in Nepal, on a solo expedition that defied all odds. “I feel an immense sense of pride and satisfaction at this achievement.

 

It is something that I have never done before alone. Personally, attempting and succeeding at something as difficult as Mera Peak alone fills me with confidence and pride,” said Karishma. Hailing from Margao, Karishma’s conquest of Mt. Mera Peak is a testament to her unwavering spirit and resilience. Amidst the rugged terrain of the Makalu Baruntse National Park, she embarked on a two-week solo expedition, accompanied only by her Sherpa guide, Mr. Lakpa, himself a seasoned mountaineer with multiple Everest summits to his name.

 

Mt. Mera Peak, in the Himalayas, presents a formidable challenge to even the most seasoned climbers. Situated in the heart of Nepal, it surpasses many renowned peaks across continents in terms of altitude. “I have done many difficult and high-altitude treks over the last 8 years. My last highest one was Mount Kilimanjaro, being the tallest peak in the Continent of Africa, which stands at 5895 meters above sea level. I wanted to break the 6000 meters barrier, as a personal ambition for a long time, so by summiting Mera Peak I did it,” said Karishma.

 

For Karishma, the decision to pursue a solo expedition came after unforeseen circumstances led to the withdrawal of her expedition companions. Undeterred by the inherent risks of solitude and high-altitude sickness, she pressed forward with the unwavering support of her husband, Gautam Verlekar, a fellow mountaineer, and the backing of the Goa Alpine Club.

 

“There was a lot of preparation and training. I trained for the past 3 months by running, weight training, interval training and of course some disciplined diet which helped me to achieve my target,” she says.

Karishma’s journey began in the quaint village of Ramechhap, leading her through the treacherous mountain pass of Zatrawa La Pass and culminating at the base camp in Khare. The arduous ascent, characterized by steep climbs and glacier-strewn landscapes, tested her physical and mental endurance to the limit.

 

Months of rigorous training, including cardio, weights, and interval training, prepared her for the challenges that lay ahead, ensuring she was equipped to tackle the harsh conditions of high-altitude climbing. It was never Karishma’s intention to go on a solo expedition. She had enrolled with the Seven Summits Agency because she was supposed to join a group of another 6 members.

When Karishma landed in Kathmandu and went for the welcome dinner, she realized that she was the only one doing the Mera peak and the rest had already changed their course for another lower peak. “So I guess I was destined to go for a solo expedition. With my husband’s support, I had the confidence to do it on my own,” said Karishma. The final push to the summit of Mt. Mera Peak demanded every ounce of Karishma’s strength and determination.

Battling against extreme weather conditions and oxygen deprivation, she embarked on an 11-hour uphill climb in the dead of night, culminating in a triumphant ascent to the summit on April 24th, 2024. Standing tall atop the peak, she not only made history as the first Goan woman to achieve such a feat but also emerged as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring mountaineers.

Karishma’s remarkable achievement adds another chapter to the rich legacy of sporting excellence in the Verlekar family. As a former table tennis state player and distance runner, she has always embraced challenges with a spirit of tenacity and determination.

Today, she can lay claim as the top woman mountaineer in Goa, paving the way for future generations to follow in her footsteps. So how did Karishma feel when she reached the peak of Mt Mera? “It was a feeling of unbelievable satisfaction but more importantly, there was pride and achievement, as if on top of the world. It felt like the abode of the gods with views of the tallest mountains in the world,” said Karishma.

“Preparation and discipline are the key,” Karishma advises upcoming mountaineers from Goa. “I think we Goans have a lot of capabilities but do not embrace the adage ‘No Pain No Gain’ in life. Also, high Mountains, especially the beautiful Himalayas, teach you life lessons that cannot be taught in any MBA School in the world,” said Karishma. Karishma is not done yet as she plans her next goal.

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