Wow – Talk about big goals at a young age. This is inspiring.
India’s youngest Everest hero sets himself loftier targets
Submitted by admin4 on 6 April 2011 – 4:10pm
* India News
By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,
Kathmandu : Twelfth grader Arjun Vajpai, who became the “tallest” teen-ager in India last year when he climbed Mt Everest, has now set himself loftier goals: To climb the six highest peaks in six other continents, scale all the 13 remaining mountains towering over 8,000 metres or the “Death Zone”, and reach the two Poles as well.
The 17-year-old, who made mountaineering history last year by becoming the youngest Indian climber to scale the Everest at the age of 16 years 11 months, is heading for Nepal once again this month to climb Mt Lhotse, the fourth highest peak in the world at 8,516m.
A keen athlete and now an author as well, Arjun hopes to follow in the footsteps of the mountaineering greats who summitted all the 14 peaks, a feat first achieved by his hero, legendary Italian climber Reinhold Messner.
Only 21 men and two women have been able to accomplish the Herculean task so far and at least four died making the attempt.
“Arjun chose Mt Lhotse since it is a more technical climb than risky,” his mother Priya Vajpai told IANS. “He needs more training and experience before he attempts trickier peaks like K2 and Kangchenjunga (the second and third highest peaks respectively).”
Arjun’s sensational climb last year was fraught with financial difficulties as his family struggled to raise funds. With the schoolboy being an unknown entity, the corporate houses did not show much interest in him and the money needed for his Everest expedition was mostly raised through donations by family friends.
This time, however, his newfound fame and added status as author of “On Top of The World” – co-authored with Anu Kumar – chronicling his Everest adventure, helped him get three sponsors with ease.
The Aditya Birla Group, oil and gas explorers Shiv Vani, and Arjun’s own Ryan International School have chipped in for the Lhotse expedition.
“Originally, Arjun had wanted to go to the South Pole,” Priya said. “However, the Poles are prohibitively expensive and we need to raise about Rs.70 lakh for that. We are still hoping we will get the money and Arjun can join the South Pole expedition in November.”
The Lhotse expedition comes in the midst of another nerve-racking adventure: his final examinations.
Arjun finishes the last board exam April 13 and flies to Kathmandu the following day when he will have to hurry to buy his mountaineering kit.
The next day, he will be off to the Lukla region, considered the gateway to the Himalayan ranges, where he also hopes for a grand reunion with another mountaineering hero of his: Apa Sherpa.
Apa, the living legend who climbed Mt Everest the highest number of times – 20, plans to shatter his own record this year. He was the leader of the 2010 expedition to Mt Everest that saw Arjun reach the top of the world.
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)