In July this year, 16-year-old Arjun Vajpai became the youngest Indian to scale the mother of all peaks: the 8,848-metre Mount Everest. The class 12 student of Ryan International School in Noida completed an advanced course in mountaineering from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering this year, and left for his Everest bid soon after. He tells us about the common hurdles that mountaineers face on their way to the top.
The Altitude: Most mountaineers say that oxygen deprivation at higher altitudes plays havoc with your mind. If you’re a pretty balanced person on terra firma, you can expect to be a little off-kilter on the way to Mount Everest. “If you want to judge a person’s character, the best time is 15,000 feet above the earth,” says Vajpai. Although Vajpai had his moments too, he says his determination helped him stay focused on getting to the top.
Weighty Issues: Since the body doesn’t assimilate nutrition at higher altitudes, mountaineers tend to lose weight as they ascend. The good news is that when you climb a mountain, you can eat indiscriminately without worrying about the weighing scale.
Vajpai says he indulged in chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts at the bakeries in base camp. “Most people lose weight but I put on 2.5 kg,” he said.
Waste Management: Relieving yourself is one of the biggest challenges while climbing a mountain. Since Vajpai was part of an eco expedition, he was also required to carry all his waste back. “It is a big source of stress,” he said. Suffice to say, negotiating the suit while collecting your waste in a bag and also trying to avoid frostbite is an act that requires tremendous dexterity.
“At night, we avoid getting out of the tent so we keep pee bottles inside the tent,” said Vajpai. “If it gets really cold, we even keep the bottles inside the sleeping bag.” Enough said.