Meet the recipient of the Hillary Medal and Founder of Save Gangotri Project – Harshwanti Bisht. She was awarded the medal for her philanthropic achievements and work to improve conditions in the Gangotri area of Uttarakhand, at the headwaters of the Ganges over the past 25 years.
Her Save Gangotri project has planted thousands of saplings, organised eco-awareness campaigns, propagated endangered medicinal herbs, and introduced eco-tourism standards to an area that has been ravaged by climate change and unregulated pilgrimage tourism.
Dr. Bisht is also an accomplished mountaineer; in 1981, she, along with Rekha Sharma, and Chandra Prabha Aitwal became the first three women to summit the main peak of Nanda Devi (7,816 m). Bisht was also a member of the Indian expedition to Mount Everest in 1984. Greatly inspired by the work of Sir Edmund Hillary in conserving the natural environment and in creating economic opportunities for the Sherpa communities, Dr. Bisht shifted her focus from recreation to conservation and sustainable high-altitude tourism.
To encourage more women to break into the male-dominated industry, Bisht is now embarking on a new project – Mountain Power Club, an all-women alliance in colleges and universities across the Himalayan region that aims to empower young women through adventure sports.