A 27-year-old climber from Andhra Pradesh has made history by summiting Mt Everest as an individual, and not as part of a government expedition.
Hyderabad boy Bachinepally Shekhar Babu showed true grit, making a late ascent of the 8,848 m peak, the highest in the world, after two failed attempts on lesser peaks due to bad weather and sponsors pulling out at the last moment.
The 27-year-old, who worked with the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Board, is among this year's last climbers to summit Mt Everest from Tibet.
Dawa Sherpa, manager of the Kathmandu-based trekking agency handling his logistics, confirmed the summit.
"Babu and his Sherpa Nima Nuru reached the top early on Tuesday," Dawa Sherpa told IANS. "They climbed together with an Australian expedition."
It was a heady moment for Babu, who becomes the first Indian to attempt the summit on his own initiative and do it without any controversy.
Scaling Mt Everest is an expensive proposition and Indians as individuals have been lagging behind due to disinterest by sponsors, whose focus remains cricket.
So far, the successful Indian expeditions to Mt Everest have been led by the Indian Army, Air Force, Navy and Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force.
Though an Indian policeman made an individual attempt about two years ago, there is controversy about whether he really reached the top.
In 2005, Babu came to Nepal with his sights trained on Mt Cho Oyu, the sixth highest peak in the world at 8,201 m.
However, though he went up more than 8,000 m, entering the Death Zone - the forbidding area where oxygen scarcity, sub-zero weather and hurricane winds make going further dangerous - he had to abandon the climb due to bad weather.
The next year, he was drawn to the mountains again, this time planning to climb both Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, a lesser peak at 8,012 m, in one go.
"We organised his visa for Tibet as well as climbing permits but he had to call off the climb at the last hour after problems with his sponsors," Dawa Sherpa said.
However, an undeterred Babu came back yet again this year with his sights set even higher.
Considering his budget constraint, his handling agency teamed him up with a group of other climbers so that the expedition could be affordable.
An eight-member "international expedition", comprising four South Africans, a Canadian, two Kazakhs and Babu, were among the last climbers on Mt Everest this season, starting their summit when over 500 people had come down from there.
Headed by South African Donald Kevin Muhl, the group, however, had a high success rate with all but one reaching the top.
Ahead of Babu, an Indian Army team summited Mt Everest with a bang last month, putting 12 soldiers and an equal number of Sherpas on top.