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Post-Everest, teen sets sights higher

Someone rightly said that great dreams begin with a dreamer. And it was the long-cherished dream of scaling Mount Everest that got 16-year-old Arjun Vajpai on top of the world. Now, Vajpai plans to scale the highest peaks in all the seven continents, including the North Pole and the South Pole.

delhi Updated: Jun 01, 2010 01:16 IST
Devatanu Nandy

Someone rightly said that great dreams begin with a dreamer. And it was the long-cherished dream of scaling Mount Everest that got 16-year-old Arjun Vajpai on top of the world. Now, Vajpai plans to scale the highest peaks in all the seven continents, including the North Pole and the South Pole.

A student of Ryan International School, Noida, on returning to the Capital on Monday after accompanying a 12-member expedition to the peak, Vajpai said,

“I felt proud to be an Indian when I planted the tricolour on the summit. I went down on my knees and thanked god. It was a dream that had come true.”

Asked about his experience, Vajpai said, “The trip was fun and I didn’t face too many difficulties while scaling the summit. But, there was a time when I felt as if I was going to die. While we were nearing a high altitude icy range, my oxygen mask froze and my whole body turned numb.”

“I could hardly breathe. Apa Sherpa, who was ahead of me, helped me regain my composure. At every step, Apa motivated me to carry on,” he said during a felicitation ceremony at the Ryan International School, Vasant Kunj.

Vajpai added a new chapter in the Indian mountaineering history by becoming the youngest Indian to conquer Everest on May 22, breaking the record of Krushna Patil, 18, from Maharashtra.

A few hours later, another teenager from California, Jordan Romero, 13, also scaled the height to become the youngest in the world to reach the summit.

“Mountaineering is a non-competitive sport. I’m extremely happy for Jordan,” Vajpai said on Romero’s stint.

A student of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, Vajpai said, “I derived inspiration to climb mountains from Col. Jot Singh Dhillon, who has submitted Everest thrice. Dillion used to tell me stories about Mount Everest and the icy North and South Poles, which further lured me into mountaineering.”

Another role model for Vajpai is Apa Sherpa. “He has climbed Everest 20 times and is a celebrity. Yet, he’s a down-to-earth person,” said Vajpai.

On whether he would try to follow in the footsteps of the famous Italian mountaineer, Reinhold Mesner, who is one of the first to scale the Everest without oxygen, Vajpai said, “I want to gain more experience in mountaineering before I try to do something like this.”

Offering tips to aspiring mountaineers, Vajpai said, “Mountaineering is not just about climbing. It is also about teamwork, patience and confidence-building. Youngsters should undergo proper training before venturing into it.”

Son of an Army man, Vajpai said his ambition is to serve in the nation’s defence forces, for which he will join NDA.

“It feels great to be home. But now, I want to catch up on lost sleep. Every part of my body is screaming for rest,” a visibly tired Vajpai said.