Chencho Dema

At 43 years old, Tshering Pelden has made history as the first Bhutanese woman to plant Bhutan flag at the base of Mount Everest.

Remarkably, she accomplished this feat within an unprecedented timeframe, reaching the base camp in just six days. This journey typically spans twice as long, making her achievement a testament to both her personal resilience and the indomitable spirit of Bhutanese mountaineers.

The standard trek from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and back typically takes 12 to 14 days.

In a remarkable solo endeavor, Tshering Pelden embarked on her journey to the base camp accompanied only by a local guide and a porter. Beginning her trek on April 5, she navigated the rugged terrain with determination.

Just six days later, standing triumphantly at the base camp of Mount Everest, she unfurled the national flag, a symbol of her extraordinary skill and unwavering perseverance in the face of daunting challenges.

In a single day, Tshering Pelden undertook an impressive trek covering between 18 to 20 kilometres, pushing her physical limits amidst the rugged terrain.

She managed to compress two to three typical trekking days into one, demonstrating her endurance and determination to maximise her time in the mountains.

In an interview with Kuensel, Tshering Pelden said: “On my 43rd birthday, I fulfilled a long-held dream—trekking to Everest Base Camp. It wasn’t just about personal achievement; it was about inspiring my two daughters and all young girls to believe in themselves.”

She continued, “I left our flag at the summit, a symbol of our community’s strength. I felt connected to home, as fellow climbers recognised where I was from.”

Tshering’s trek to the base camp of Mount Everest wasn’t merely about fulfilling a lifelong ambition, it represented a profound journey of determination. It served as a reminder that with unwavering belief in oneself and resilience in the face of adversity, the boundaries of possibility are limitless.

Asked about her decision not to summit Mount Everest, Tshering said that financial investment required made it unfeasible at the moment. However, she expressed contentment in having experienced and felt the majestic presence of Everest.

“But perhaps one day,” she added optimistically, “I will undertake the journey to the summit.”

Reflecting on her journey, Tshering recounted facing challenges such as altitude sickness, nausea, and headaches along the arduous path.

She emphasised the importance of preparedness, advising fellow trekkers to carry an oximeter to monitor oxygen levels. Her firsthand experience highlighted the vital role of safety measures in navigating the demanding terrain.

Tshering is from Norbuling, Gelephu, and currently manages a business in Thimphu.

As a mother of two daughters, both studying in Canada, her responsibilities once curtailed her passion for hiking after an early marriage. With her daughters now grown, she finds herself liberated to pursue her long-held dreams. Despite her education up to Class 10, her determination and spirit remain undiminished.

In 2011, she embarked on her fitness journey, recognising that age is merely a number when it comes to pursuing one’s dreams and maintaining physical well-being. Her commitment to staying active and healthy led her to take up hiking in 2019, further demonstrating her belief in the power of determination and resilience to overcome obstacles and fulfill aspirations.

As a single mother, Tshering faced numerous challenges while raising her children, but now that they have completed their studies and grown into independent individuals, she finds herself contemplating her own aspirations.

Encouraged by her eldest daughter, who champions her pursuit of personal fulfillment, she feels empowered to prioritise her own dreams and aspirations for the first time in years.

She has already accomplished impressive treks, reaching heights of 5,000 metres at Mount Jomolhari and exploring Singye Dzong in 2021.

Undeterred by past challenges, she now sets her sights on an upcoming trek to Dagala alongside her friends, eager to continue her adventures in the breathtaking landscapes of her homeland.

“I have Snowman Trek on my bucket list,” she said. “If it’s about mountain, I would love to explore more mountains in the future.”