At 13, like most Garhwal 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 an M.A. in Sanskrit and then a B.Ed. In spite of these achievements the job offers that came in were only for low-paid, temporary, junior-level positions, so 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', much to her surprise.
In an advanced camp at NIM in 1982, she climbed Gangotri I (6,672 m/ 21900 ft) and Rudugaira (5,819 m / 19091 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.
India's fourth expedition to Everest was scheduled for 1984, and only four women in the world had ever scaled the peak. The '84 team consisted of seven women and eleven men, and this was Bachendri Pal's first real expedition. After an avalanche, injuries, and other problems, she stood on the summit of Sagarmatha (the Nepali name for the highest peak in the world) at 1:07 pm on 23 May, 1984. 29,028 ft, or 8848 m.
The year after this accomplishment, Pal led an all-woman team to Everest, and in 1994, led an all-woman rafting team down the Ganga, from Hardwar to Calcutta. In 1997, Bachendri Pal was the leader for an all-woman, seven month traverse of the Himalayas, which, unfortunately, fell through. She is currently employed as deputy divisional manager (adventure programmes), Tata Steel Adventure Foundation.