For most Indian-American couples, mornings begin with a quick breakfast before diving into the hustle and bustle of daily life. But for Harpreet Singh Cheema and Navneet Kaur Cheema, adventure is their breakfast conversation. What started as a shared passion for marathons and mountain bike rides 15 years ago reached new heights—literally—on May 23, 2024, when they conquered Mount Everest.

Harpreet, 47, and Navneet, 40, became the first American couple of Indian origin and the first Sikh couple to summit the world’s highest peak. In the thin air at 29,032 feet, they offered prayers for world peace, equality, and environmental harmony. Their spiritual moment on Everest’s summit was highlighted by a heartfelt recital of “Gagan main thaal,” a hymn by Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism.

This adventurous duo has been together since 2008, embarking on a journey that combined mutual passion, perseverance, and a love for the great outdoors. Their adventure began in Seattle, where they ran marathons and participated in bicycle rides. The Seattle Marathon was a staple of their life from 2008 to 2014. Their interest shifted to trekking after thrilling bike rides at Mount Rainier, eventually intensifying when they moved to Michigan. Since 2015, they have been regular participants in the Detroit Free Press Marathon.

A pivotal moment in their mountaineering journey came in 2018 during a trip to Machu Picchu. The Inca citadel’s majesty inspired their commitment to scale the world’s seven summits. They reached Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in 2019, and Europe’s Mt. Elbrus in 2022. This year, they tackled both Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina and Alaska’s Mt. Denali.

Their ascent of Denali was particularly harrowing. Harpreet, vice president of strategy at Trinity Health in Michigan, recounted a near-fatal fall into a crevasse, from which Navneet rescued him. “I owe my life to my better half,” he said.

Undeterred by the challenges, including unpredictable weather, frostbite, avalanches, and exhaustion, the couple pressed on. Their Everest climb was marred by tragedy when they encountered a collapsed Kenyan mountaineer near the summit. “I performed ‘Kirtan Sohila’ for his departing soul and we continued our climb,” Harpreet shared.

Their story is not just one of romance but of spiritual and physical resilience, embodying a profound partnership on the world’s highest peaks.