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Not a big deal, say students who scaled Everest

The conquering five are from Ashram schools of Dewada and Jeevti in Chandrapur.

mumbai Updated: May 31, 2018 19:42 IST
Madhusree Ghosh
Madhusree Ghosh
Hindustan Times
mumbai,mount everest,trek
They made a typically teen group at the podium -- Madavi, Manisha Dhurve, Kavidas Katmode, Pramesh Ale and Vikas Soyam -- shy, giggling, a bit daunted by the crowd of reporters and cameramen they were addressing.(HT Photo)

“It was not a big deal. We trained for it and climbed it. I was not scared at all,” said Umakant Madavi, 19, a tribal student from Chandrapur district, Maharashtra, who was among five teenagers addressing a press conference on Wednesday, on their way home from summiting Mount Everest.

They made a typically teen group at the podium -- Madavi, Manisha Dhurve, Kavidas Katmode, Pramesh Ale and Vikas Soyam -- shy, giggling, a bit daunted by the crowd of reporters and cameramen they were addressing.

The stories they told were incredible.

“The climb was difficult and we had to pass many dead bodies of other climbers on our way. The first body scared me, but then we got used to it,” said Katmode, 18. To Dhurve, 18, the journey down was more unnerving that the climb up. “It felt like there was a sky above me and under me too!” she said.

The group started their journey from Mumbai on April 11. Katmode and Madavi were the first to conquer the peak, in the wee hours of May 16. Ale and Dhurve reached the peak reached the peak that afternoon, and Soyam, the afternoon of the following day. His delay was because he had helped fellow climber Aakash Madavi to return from the advanced base camp after the latter fell ill.

The youngsters’ Everest mission was part of Mission Shaurya, an initiative of the Tribal Development Department of the Maharashtra government. Its aim was to help tribal students of government ashram schools to realise their highest potential. The conquering five are from Ashram schools of Dewada and Jeevti in Chandrapur.

Shekhar Babu, the expedition leader, who climbed the peak in 2007, explained how the kids trained in Ladakh in January so that they would be acclimatised to the strong winds as well as lowered oxygen levels. “We also told them to be prepared to fail because not everyone can make it on the first try. But they were so brave about it all,” he says.

“It is a high-risk expedition and we are grateful to the parents of for trusting us with their kids,” added Manisha Verma, principal secretary of Tribal Development Department. “The government promises to take care of their further education. We want them to shine in life.”

The kids, meanwhile, were still giddy with pride. As Dhurve said, “When I placed the Indian national flag at the highest peak in the world, I felt like the happiest person in the world.”

First Published: May 31, 2018 01:32 IST