Kolkata, Apr 21 : A pall of gloom descended on the mountaineering fraternity as veteran lady mountaineer of the country Rama Sengupta Paul, who led the first successful all-women expedition to Kedarnath Dome in Garhwal Himalaya, died here following a cardiac arrest at a city hospital this morning.
Sixty-six-year-old Rama was admitted into the hospital on March 15 last after she sustained burn injuries while offering prayer to their house deity. She is survived by two daughters while her husband predeceased her about a few years back.
A tryst with rock climbing training courses in Sushunia Hill, organized by Pathikrit and thereafter Himalayan Association in 1971 and 1972 led Rama into a world of mountaineering.
After completing basic mountaineering course from HMI Darjeeling and then advance courses from both HMI and NIM Uttar Kashi during the early 1970s, Rama led the all women expedition to Mt. Kedarnath Dome in Garhwal Himalaya which was organized by city-based Himalayan Association to commemorate the convey International Year of Women in 1975. It was also the debut expedition for Chandra Prabha Aitwal who was one of the summiters and now one of the iconic figures in women mountaineering of the country.
Rama was a member of Indo-Japanese Women expedition to Kamet and Abi Gamin organized by Indian Mountaineering Foundation in 1976. In 1978 she led another all women expedition of Himalayan Association; this time to Dharamsura in Himachal Pradesh. She was part of Indian women climbing delegation to Japan by IMF where they climbed several peaks in the Japanese Alps during 1979.
Rama successfully attended Skiing Courses at Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering in Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir before taking part in the International Climbing Camp which was held on Gangotri glacier in 1981. She was also a member of the pre-Everest expedition to Gangotri peak, organized by IMF in 1982.
Besides acting as Guest Instructor in Adventure Course for girls at HMI Darjeeling, Rama, a retired bank officer, guided youths and students at many rock climbing and adventure camps in West Bengal. Rama also trekked in various parts of Indian and Nepal Himalaya.
Chairman of Indian Mountaineering Foundation East Zone Committee and President of Himalayan Association Ujjwal Ganguly has condoled the death of Rama. In a message of condolence, Ganguly said “ Rama was a noted climber during her time. Rama’s death has left a void among the mountaineers and adventure lovers of the country.”