What would you do at the top of the world? If you are Namairakpam Chingkheinganba, you will probably break down and cry.
That’s what this young Everest conqueror did last month when he reached the peak of Mount Everest at 5.30 am on May 18.
“I felt very happy at making my father’s dream come true. I cried for nearly 15 minutes,” said Chingkheinganba relaxing on the lawns of a Kathmandu hotel after his descent.
Ridicule often kills a person’s enthusiasm but in the Manipur teenager’s case it proved to be the major inspiration.
The disparaging remarks about his seemingly weak appearance made him work even harder to conquer Mt Everest (8848 metres), his father’s dream.
The Class XI student of Kanan Devi School in Imphal scaled the peak at 16 years, seven months and 11 days — becoming the youngest Indian at the time. Interestingly, the record was broken three days later by two boys from the Lawrence School in Sanawar, Himachal Pradesh.
Chingkheinganba was among the 11 climbers who made history by scaling the highest peak during the two month long 1st North-East India Mount Everest Expedition held under the aegis of Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA) sponsored by North Eastern Council and Manipur Government.
“I was not even aware about Vajpai’s record. It was only when we were on the way to the Everest Base Camp, someone told me about his record and that I had the chance to beat it,” he said.
Chingkheinganba’s brush with adventure and mountains started five years ago when he took part in an adventure course organised by the Manipur Mountaineering Institute (MMI).
Inspired by his father Namairakpam Tomba, a mountaineer, who couldn’t fulfil his dream of scaling Everest due to lack of training facilities and sponsors, he took mountaineering courses and became part of several expeditions.
According to his cousin brother, N Surjit, Chingkheinganba trained aggressively to make his dream a reality. His day started with morning exercises, followed by a breakfast of milk, egg and fruits prepared by his mother Sabitri. Later, he would go off to school.
And even after his strict training he managed to do well in a class of 50 students.
“He is ready to take up challenges and is committed to doing things, besides being a good student”, says Ng Gojendra, the young Mt Everest climber’s class teacher.
Chingkheinganba, the strong boy who called his teacher and parents after the expedition told HT, “On reaching the top of the world, I was so happy because I have somehow fulfiled my father’s dream to climb it. Now I’ll continue my study to bag a doctorate degree in geography”.
His father, a village pradhan N Tomba, now awaits his son’s return at their Patsoi village in Imphal’s west district to present him a Royal Enfield motorcycle as a gift for achieving the feat.
“I promised to gift him something he wants once he climbs the Everest,” says Tomba.
Sharing a similar sentiment, Chingkheinganba’s mother, Sabitri said, “My son’s training on mountaineering at Uttarkashi last year could be his turning point. He always dreamt big and used to say he would be a big man one day. This could be one of his plus points.”
His feats earned him selection in the ‘First North-East Top of the World’ expedition organised by Indian government’s ministry of development of northeastern region (DONER).
Chingkheinganba began his ascent of the peak from South Col, the last camp located at 7906 metres from which climbers make the final push at 8pm on May 17. He reached the summit after a climb of nine and half hours.
“I was very exhausted and dehydrated by the time we reached the peak, but the support of my guide Lakhpa Rangdu Sherpa kept me going,” he said.
The guide, who has scaled Everest 10 times, also has words of praise for Chingkheinganba. Despite being in his teens the Manipur lad is very “talented and strong — both mentally and physically,” he says.
The teenager who loves to play guitar, is interested in becoming a doctor, but assures that his love for adventure and the mountains will remain undiminished.