Meet the first Bangladeshi woman who conquered Mount Lobuche
Joynab Shantu, an assistant professor of the Department of Bangla at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, is the first Bangladeshi woman to conquer the 20,161 feet tall Mount Lobuche of Nepal. She reached the peak with Bangladesh's flag in November 2021.
In a chat with The Daily Star, Joynab shared her experience.
"I never actually thought I would be climbing mountains with such passion. Initially, I was not physically fit enough for mountaineering," she says.
Joynab's first trekking experience was in the Quantum Cosmo School of Lama sub-district, Bandarban, where she climbed the small hill with some kids of the institution.
"The joy I felt after reaching the summit washed away all the hardships I faced," adds Joynab.
After she completed her master's in 2016, Joynab started exploring mountain areas of Bangladesh through various trekking groups.
"I still remember trekking up to the Hamta Pass of the Himalayas in India in 2017," shares the mountaineer. "It was a five-day tour where I truly experienced trekking, and staying in tents."
"As we trekked up to the 14,100 feet mountain, nature starts to get crueler yet the greenery and immense beauty of it enchanted me," says Joynab.
At the foot of Hamta Pass, Joynab experienced the green beauty of the Himalayas. It was raining during the second day of the tour, and on the third day, she witnessed the glacier mountain ranges at the summit of Hamta Pass.
"Trekking down the Hamta Pass, we saw the Chandratal Lake which is one of my favourite places," she shares. "After this experience, I wholeheartedly fell in love with the mountains."
Moreover, Joynab set off for Roopkund Lake, famed to be the Skeleton Lake sitting at the laps of Trisul massif over 16,470 feet above ground in 2018.
"Roopkund was my first midnight experience of trekking, and pushing to the summit with headlamps," recalls Joynob. "Seeing drops of moonlight reflecting on the glacial mountain snow was truly a heavenly sight. We also saw ancient skeletons on that mysterious lake."
In 2019, Joynab enrolled in a three-day rock climbing course in India's Bankura district and trained at the Susunia Hill through Himalayan Club.
"The Yala peak of Nepal was another memorable trek in my life," shares Joynab. "We usually have to return by 12 noon at treks and must finish by 2 pm as the weather almost always worsens at that period. I almost reached the summit of Yala at 1 pm but due to the weather, my team had to return," the mountaineer recalls.
"I was injured during that trek and after returning I felt it needed proper training to continue my passion for mountain trekking," says Joynab. "So, I joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering for a month-long course covering the basic mechanisms and mathematics of mountaineering."
Due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns all over the world, Joynab could not trek in 2020 after her last trek in Ladakh. She went to Mount Pharchamu in Nepal at the end of 2021 but the trek was unsuccessful due to heavy snowfall.
She had to abandon the trek halfway after almost reaching the summit of the mountain.
"Saddened by the failure, I set my sight on a new mountain—Mount Lobuche. Its trek routes were quite rocky. Wearing crampons, special shoes for walking on ice, was difficult, but I reached the summit, overcoming the challenges. As a Bangladeshi, I devote this achievement to our martyrs and female freedom fighters who fought for our independence," concludes Joynab.