Meet Deeya Bajaj The Conqueror Of 7 Summits!

Deeya Bajaj is a mountaineer, adventurer, and motivational speaker who has conquered the 7 Summits! In this interview, find out more.

Deeya Bajaj is a modern-day explorer, adventurer, and motivational speaker born and bought up in India. At the age of 17, Deeya participated in a 550 km cross-country skiing expedition to raise funds for children’s homes, becoming the youngest in the world to ski across the Greenland Icecap.

Deeya along with her father Ajeet Bajaj (Indian adventurer and Padma Shri Awardee) completed their Mt. Everest expedition on 16 May 2018 becoming the first Indian father-daughter duo in mountaineering history to climb the highest peak in the world. She also made India proud after scaling the 7 Summits (Highest Mountains in every Continent).

On the occasion of the 1st anniversary of scaling Mt. Denali, the highest peak in North America, Deeya sat down with The Women Web and talked about her inspiring journey through it all.

How Deeya Bajaj became a mountaineer?

Deeya describes climbing as a part of growing up. In a conversation with the Women’s Web, she said, “Climbing and adventure was always a big part of my family, I was perhaps 4–5 years old when my dad set up a rope system inside our home. We all love it as a family.”

Mountaineer Deeya Bajaj with her father Mountainer Ajeet Bajaj

Adding, “The first ever moment I got to discover that climbing was my passion, this is what I wanted to do, was when I went to Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarakhand. I was 12 years old then, and it was the first time that I had done an adventure by myself. I did have such a good time that I didn’t call home for the two weeks I was there. Then later, I went back to the basic course and then to the advance. So, that’s how mountaineering slowly became a passion, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the planet.”

Deeya Bajaj recently completed her Master’s in Business Administration from Wharton, University of Pennsylvania. When asked about what makes the US the place for adventure.

“The U.S.A. is indeed one of the most fabulous destinations for adventure. As I pursued both my undergraduate and master’s degrees there, and what I loved about it was how easily accessible everything is. You could wake up one morning and decide to go on a hike, there are plenty of hikes around, well-marked, well-maintained. There is indeed a wide variety of adventure, whether it’s rafting, kayaking, bouldering, or skiing along with stunning landscapes. What stands out to me the most is how clean the outdoors are. It’s evident that people take pride in maintaining the cleanliness of these spaces.”

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According to Deeya, the idea of climbing Mt. Everest came up when her father visited her at Cornell. She quoted, “While we were hiking in Cornell, we started talking about all these adventures that we have done together and one of us brought up Mt. Everest, and we were like we have to do this.”

She did emphasise the fact that a significant reason why she wanted to climb Everest with her father was actually to set an example for the world that women, with the support of their families, can make the impossible, possible.

Furthermore, she added, “We wanted to show the world that our daughters can do a lot, but we can do a lot more when our families are there lifting us and supporting us.”

Conquering the 7 summits!

In 2022, her years-long journey to climb the 7 summits came to an end after she finished climbing the last of the seven summits, after climbing Mt. Denali the highest peak in North America.

Mt Denali Trail Deeya Bajaj

Sharing her experience with Women’s Web, Deeya said, “It took us 15 days to complete it. It’s a very, very intense excavation because you are carrying up to 60 kg of weight on a sledge that starts to pull you down while you climb the narrow path.”

When asked about challenges on her way up to Mt. Denali, she addresses the climb as intense, adding, “Once it gets very, very steep, you can’t carry the weight up. So, what we do is you climb your way up to the first base camp and bury the load. Come back down the next day, and then climb all the way up with the half load you buried previously.”

Bajaj also talked about how she prepared for the climbing expeditions. “We try to do as many hicks as possible, weight training, gym, and swimming. So actually before this Mt Denali climb, I was in Philadelphia doing MBA. So I used to wear a 30 kg weight west to class and my class was only 20 minutes walk away. Particularly on weekends, I used to go to hicks in beautiful Pennsylvania, and that’s how I prepared for the main climb.”

Mountains are impartial to gender

When asked about her experience as a woman mountaineer, and what challenges did she face? She quotes, “I think a lot of what and when does gender plays a role is when a girls talk about climbing the outdoors. I think people come up with all sorts of questions like oh my God, it’s dangerous, what will happen? Like you never really speak to boys about.”

She added, “ We women are still minorities in the field and because of that we are often asked this question. But up in the mountains, if there is a storm, it’s going to affect the male mountaineer the same way it does a female mountaineer.

She jokingly said, “If you have to live without a shower for six weeks, that also impacts a female mountaineer as the male mountaineer. So, when you are out there, the challenges are essentially the same.”

Deeya also emphasised the fact that at the end of the day, the standards should not be different for boys and girls. Deeya who is also a TEDx motivational speaker and a women’s rights advocate said, “As a community and as a society we should encourage our daughters to pursue their passion no matter what it is.”

Deeya Bajaj

Deeya Bajaj is indeed a role model for young women who want to step forward to pursue their passions. According to Deeya, her motivation comes from the fact that she wants to send a strong message to the world that women can be much more than what society wants them to be.

The adventurous and inspiring story of Deeya Bajaj is, indeed, the hard work and dedication of the 12-year-old girl that went to Nehru Institute of Mountaineering having the dream of living a life of her own.
Deeya indeed painted a new vision of a strong and determined woman who is brave enough to think outside the box.

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Image source: Deeya Bajaj, edited on CanvaPro

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