August 2011

Conquering the Gobi


Sucheta Kadethankar, a 33-year-old woman from Pune, has achieved an arduous feat - she has successfully crossed the 1600 kilometres of the Gobi Desert, the largest desert in Asia, on foot.

Sucheta was part of a multi-national expedition which was led by ace desert explorer and mountaineer Ripley Davenport. Initially, there were 13 members in the team but six of them opted out midway for various reasons and the remaining seven, including Sucheta and two other women - one from Australia and the other from Singapore, completed the journey on July 15 after having commenced their expedition on May 25.

This feat has perhaps made Sucheta the first Indian woman who has crossed the Gobi Desert.

The members of the expedition had to walk 25 to 32 kilometres every day, and had to contend with a monotonous sight since a desert environment does not offer any visual treat but just an unending stretch of sand.

The expedition began from the north of the Khongoryn Els, the landmark sand dunes in Mongolia. Their provisions were carried by camels. Apart from the unending stretch of sand, the adventurers had to encounter extreme weather conditions - hot days and cold nights - and, of course, sand storms. The pleasant sight of an oasis would make their day.

Apart from physical ability, the adventurers needed tough mental strength to endure the rigours.

Even before embarking upon the journey, Sucheta, who is employed in a private firm in Pune, prepared herself by walking the distance of 24 kilometres from her residence to her office every day. She also undertook the exercise of walking while dragging three car tyres along. She had also participated in the marathon runs in different parts of the country and had taken to walking and cycling when the sun was at its peak in order to prepare herself for the harsh climate of the desert. Sucheta had also taken up strength training exercises.

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