Bachendri Pal was born on 24 May 1954 at Nakuri, Uttar Kashi in Uttaranchal. Her father was a border tradesman who took atta (flour) and rice from India to Tibet on mules and horses. Always a rebellious child, she loved wandering by herself in the Garhwal Himalayas. Her family was often entertained by her dreams of travelling in airplanes and meeting famous people. She was independent and fearless, and first tasted the excitement of the high altitudes when a group of 12-year-old classmates climbed to 4000m (13,123 feet) during a picnic, could not come down by nightfall, and spent the night there without food or shelter.
At 13, like most Garhwali girls, she was expected to leave school and help in the house, but she studied on her own at night until her determination impressed her family to let her finish high school. She still earned money by sewing in her spare time. The Principal of her school persuaded her family to send her to college, where she beat both boys and girls in rifle shooting and other competitions. Her B. A. thrilled her parents, who wanted her to be the first girl in the village with a higher degree.
She eventually acquired an M. A. in Sanskrit and then a B. Ed. Bachendri applied to the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering for a course. She was judged the best student in the course, and marked down as ‘Everest material’. She climbed three peaks in 1982, and also participated in two expeditions in 1982-83. She conquered Mount Everest on 23 May 1984. She is the first Indian women to reach the Everest summit of 8,848 metres which is the world’s highest peak. She is the fifth woman to have done so.
She feels that ‘Mixed teams are better than all women teams. She is a member of the governing body of IMF, HMI, NIM, National Adventure Foundation, Vice Chairman of Seven Sister’s Adventure Club, Uttar Kashi and All India Women’s Judo and Karate Federation, and President of Lioness Club India. She is the Manager Adventure Programmes, Tata Iron ; Steel Co. Ltd. In an advanced camp at NIM in 1982, she climbed Gangotri I (6,672 m/ 21,900 ft) and Rudugaira (5,819 m / 19,091 ft).
Her mentor was Brigadier Gyan Singh, Director of the National Adventure Foundation, who set up an Adventure Club for young women to learn mountaineering skills. It also provided an instructor’s job for Bachendri, whose family was under economic pressure. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had presented the 1986 Ladies Study Group Award to her in recognition of her outstanding contribution in the field of Mountaineering. She has been awarded Padmashree, Arjuna Award, IMF Gold Medal, and cash award from U. P. Government and TISCO.