Noida’s Arjun Vajpai to scale Everest for 2nd time; no O2 support this time
Mountaineer Arjun Vajpai, 27, reached the Everest Base Camp on Saturday evening to climb Mount Everest again. This would be his second attempt to scale the Earth’s highest mountain above sea level, but this time, without any oxygen support.
Along with his father Colonel Sanjeev Vajpai and mother Priya Vajpai, the Noida resident started his journey from Nepal’s small mountain town Lukla to the base camp on April 8 morning. “I began trekking from Lukla to Khumbu Valley on April 8 and crossed some amazing places on the way, such as Phakding, Namche Bazaar, and Tengboche. It was a nostalgic journey... seeing all these villages after so many years,” said Vajpai.
Following acclimatisation at the base camp, Vajpai begins his summit on April 24/ 25 — depending on the weather — and is likely to reach the peak 30 days later. According to Sparsh Tyagi, Vajpai’s manager, the 27-year-old “hopes to reach the peak on May 22 — exactly 11 years since his first climb”.
In 2010, Vajpai — then 16 years old — became the youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest. However, Malavath Poorna, 13, broke the record in 2014 and became the youngest to climb the mountain.
At 8,848 metres above sea level, the air on the summit is thin, and most mountaineers require to carry oxygen cylinders with them. A mountaineer has around three to four oxygen cylinders, weighing eight to nine kilograms each, making the climb even more daunting. According to National Geographic magazine, by 2017, around 200 mountaineers have successfully climbed Everest without supplemental oxygen.
Trained in Almora during Covid lockdown in 2020
“I had dreamt of going on this expedition in 2020 but couldn’t, following the coronavirus outbreak in March,” he said over the phone.
Before the coronavirus-induced lockdown in 2020, Vajpai used to cycle on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway thrice a week, covering a distance of 60 kilometers to increase his lung capacity. He used to run 60 kilometers thrice a week, without any time limit. After the lockdown was imposed, according to Vajpai, he used his 20-storey apartment in Sector 51 to lightly train his body by climbing stairs up and down daily. In June 2020, he moved to the house his parents own in Uttarakhand’s Almora, for rigorous training. The hills and mountains there offered him a bigger challenge to meet.
“I have been a mountaineer for more than 11 years. Right from the age of 16, when I had climbed Everest, I have been climbing other peaks — even as high as 8,000 metres. I have been training hard, and my body has evolved. Now, I don’t feel the need to carry supplemental oxygen during my climbs,” he said, adding that seeing other mountaineers climb Everest without any oxygen support has also inspired him.
“I realised that there are no limits to our dreams. The only barrier is in our minds. I saw so many great climbers scaling Everest without supplemental oxygen. Their names are on the list of elite mountaineers today. Seeing them, I was inspired to do the same,” said Vajpai.
‘Will come full circle if I return with all fingers, toes’
Remembering his days in Kathmandu in 2010, Vajpai said, “Memories are rushing back to me as I’m here in Kathmandu after 11 years. Back then, no one believed in me and rubbished the idea of a 16-year-old climbing Everest. And the rest is history. I don’t think I have come full circle yet. It will be only when I come back after achieving the feat with all ten fingers and toes this time.”
Vajpai will be climbing the Earth’s highest mountain above sea level from the Nepal side with Sherpa (expedition organising firm ‘Asian Trekking’ has assigned the sherpa guide to him). “Earlier, I had planned to climb Everest from the Tibet side without a sherpa. However, as that side is closed, I had to change my plans. Nepal does not allow a solo climber, so I have to go with the sherpa,” Vajpai said.
Following his conquest of Everest, Vajpai had successfully climbed Mount Lhotse (8,516 metres) and Mount Manaslu (8,163 metres) in 2011, Mount Makalu (8,485 metres) and Mount Cho Oyu (8,201 metres) in 2016, and Mount Kanchenjunga (8,586 metres) in 2018.