This Indian American Couple Conquer Mt Everest Recently in Their 40s after 5 Months of Scaling Mt Denali in Alaska

In America, a typical day starts with preparation for a quick morning breakfast for many Indian-origin couples so they continue to be in the ‘rate race’. But the couple – Harpreet Singh Cheema and Navneet Kaur Cheema – would start a day with dollops of adventure over their discussions of a marathon or a bicycle ride. The journey of adventure that they started with marathons and mountain bike rides 15 years ago has culminated on the world’s highest point – Mount Everest.

On 23 May 2024, they trekked to the summit of Mt Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. 47-year-old Harpreet Singh and 40-year-old Navneet Kaur became not only the first American couple of Indian origin but also the first Sikh couple to bow to the rising sun and feel above the world on Mt Everest. In those fleeting moments of less oxygen at the highest point of the planet, they offered prayers to the Supreme for world peace, equality, and a green planet.

Harpreet Singh Cheema & Navneet Kaur Cheema, first NRI Sikh couple Mt Everest, Indian immigrants USA news


The first thought that crossed their mind was the thought of offering prayers to Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism and the first Sikh Guru. They recited the aarti “Gagan main thaal” wherein the entire universe is metaphorically described as a platter of prayers. The recital reverberated in the air, the sky and amid the mountains. It was more a spiritual bliss than a moment of romantic euphoria for them.

The first Sikh couple having scaled Mt Everest is, indeed, a ‘match made in heaven’. They both are avid climbers and travelers. Soon after their marriage in 2008, they embarked on a journey of mutual passion, perseverance and promise to taste the adventures of nature. While staying in Seattle, they strengthened their nuptial bond by participating in marathons and bicycle rides together. The Seattle Marathon had been a witness to their couple goals from 2008 through 2014.

Trekking became their new interest after they experienced the thrill of riding bikes at Mount Rainier between Seattle and Portland. Their interest in trekking got intense after they moved to Michigan in the Midwest US. They have not missed a single tournament of the Detroit Free Press Marathon since 2015. It was their trip to Machu Pichu in 2018, when they discovered their mutual love for mountaineering. Machu Pichu is a 15th century Inca citadel set on an 8000-ft mountain ridge.

Their love for mountaineering blossomed into so deep a passion that Harpreet Singh Cheema and Navneet Kaur Cheema pledged to scale seven summits of the world. They summited Africa’s highest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro (5895 meters) in October 2019, and Europe’s highest peak, Mt Elbrus (5642 meters), in June 2022. It increased their resilience against the adversities of nature to such an extent that they climbed two other highest peaks back to back in January 2023: Mt Aconcagua in Argentina, and Alaska’s Mt Denali in the US.

“I owe my life to my better half. I fell into a crevasse while climbing Mount Denali and Navneet pulled me out using a rope,” said Harpreet Singh, who is vice president of strategy at Trinity Health, a leading US healthcare company in Michigan.

The couple braved unpredictable weather, frostbites, avalanche, exhaustion and other detriments to climb Mt Everest despite experiencing a tragedy. “A few meters from the summit, we saw a Kenyan mountaineer sitting down. By the time we reached him, he had collapsed and died. I performed ‘Kirtan Sohila’ for his departing soul at that point and we progressed further. Such is life on the mountain,” Harpreet Singh told the media.

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