By Devatanu Nandy, Hindustan Times
Someone rightly said that great dreams begin with a dreamer. And it was the long-cherished dream of scaling Mount Everest that got 16-year-old Arjun Vajpai on top of the world. Now, Vajpai plans to scale the highest peaks in all the seven continents, including the North Pole and the South Pole.
A student of Ryan International School, Noida, on returning to the Capital on Monday after accompanying a 12-member expedition to the peak, Vajpai said,
“I felt proud to be an Indian when I planted the tricolour on the summit. I went down on my knees and thanked god. It was a dream that had come true.”
Asked about his experience, Vajpai said, “The trip was fun and I didn’t face too many difficulties while scaling the summit. But, there was a time when I felt as if I was going to die. While we were nearing a high altitude icy range, my oxygen mask froze and my whole body turned numb.”
“I could hardly breathe. Apa Sherpa, who was ahead of me, helped me regain my composure. At every step, Apa motivated me to carry on,” he said during a felicitation ceremony at the Ryan International School, Vasant Kunj.
Vajpai added a new chapter in the Indian mountaineering history by becoming the youngest Indian to conquer Everest on May 22, breaking the record of Krushna Patil, 18, from Maharashtra.
A few hours later, another teenager from California, Jordan Romero, 13, also scaled the height to become the youngest in the world to reach the summit.
“Mountaineering is a non-competitive sport. I’m extremely happy for Jordan,” Vajpai said on Romero’s stint.
A student of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, Vajpai said, “I derived inspiration to climb mountains from Col. Jot Singh Dhillon, who has submitted Everest thrice. Dillion used to tell me stories about Mount Everest and the icy North and South Poles, which further lured me into mountaineering.”
Another role model for Vajpai is Apa Sherpa. “He has climbed Everest 20 times and is a celebrity. Yet, he’s a down-to-earth person,” said Vajpai.
On whether he would try to follow in the footsteps of the famous Italian mountaineer, Reinhold Mesner, who is one of the first to scale the Everest without oxygen, Vajpai said, “I want to gain more experience in mountaineering before I try to do something like this.”
Offering tips to aspiring mountaineers, Vajpai said, “Mountaineering is not just about climbing. It is also about teamwork, patience and confidence-building. Youngsters should undergo proper training before venturing into it.”
Son of an Army man, Vajpai said his ambition is to serve in the nation’s defence forces, for which he will join NDA.
“It feels great to be home. But now, I want to catch up on lost sleep. Every part of my body is screaming for rest,” a visibly tired Vajpai said.
- Courtesy: http://www.hindustantimes.com
Childhood dream comes true
By Madhur Tankha
As a child he would dream of conquering Mount Everest. But when 16-year-old Arjun Vajpai was close to realising his dream, he found himself pitted against insurmountable odds.
The youngest Indian to climb Everest sounds overjoyed as you talk to him today but hasn't become complacent as he has set his eyes on achieving other goals. “During the climb to Everest, I started talking to myself. Every step seemed like eternity, I was gasping for breath as the oxygen in my cylinder had decreased. But I didn't allow negative thoughts to dissuade me from going ahead. On reaching the summit, I felt like a king and got a bird's-eye view of other smaller peaks. My first thought was of my parents, especially my mother, who had been quite worried,” says a gleaming Arjun, who is a Class XII student of Ryan International School in Noida. What added to Arjun's discomfort were the heavy-duty mountaineering boots and rucksack. “My parents warned me not to go ahead with the ascent if I found the climb a daunting proposition. Luckily, I was mentally prepared for all kinds of eventualities like crevasses, blizzards and other obstacles.”
Col. Jyot Singh Dhillon, who has the distinction of climbing Everest thrice, was the young lad's motivational guru. He familiarised Arjun by narrating his own expeditions.
“After listening to his stories, I would mentally conjure how I would have reacted to certain difficult situations,” says Arjun.
Arjun, who has had a fascination for trekking and mountaineering since childhood, says it was indeed a proud moment for him to get felicitated, autographed and photographed by his school mates.
“Now I want to go to the North and South Poles; it will be like a mini grand slam for me. Eventually my ambition is to climb the world's seven highest peaks. Professionally I want to join the Army,” says this Commerce student who is also giving time to his studies.
Arjun's father Sanjiv Vajpai says there were some anxious moments. “I was concerned about his safety and contacted his instructors at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi. NIM principal I. S. Thapa was impressed by Arjun's climbing skills and determination. Arjun climbed DKD2 in Garhwal. On March 25 he left from Delhi and climbed Island peak in Nepal on April 7. From April 11 to May 17 he trained himself in rotational summit. He started from Everest's base camp on May 18 and climbed on May 22.”
Arjun's older sister Gauri, who is a political science student at Indraprastha College in Delhi, says her brother was fond of taking up challenges in adventurous sports since childhood. “In school, he has always been popular because of his performance in sports and won a lot of medals. So it wasn't surprising when one day he announced that he would climb Everest.”
- Courtesy: The Hindu