New Delhi: At the age of 15 years and seven months, Raghav Joneja from Moradabad became the youngest Indian to scale the Mount Everest when he along with his five schoolmates climbed the fifth highest peak in the world.
Raghav broke the record set by Manipur's Nameirakpam Chingkheinganba, at 16 years seven months and 11 days, as recently as last month, surpassing Arjun Vajpai's feat by a week.
A student of Lawrence School, Sanawar, Raghav achieved the remarkable feat on May 21 after embarking on an arduous 56 day-long journey.
In the process, the team from one of Asia's extant boarding schools, in Kasuali, became the youngest group and the first school team in the world to reach the top of the 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) mountain range.
"It feels really good to become the youngest Indian to summit such a tough peak. We trained for around eight months for this expedition. Climbing the peak with my schoolmates made it little easier," Raghav said of the expedition supported by Hero Cycles.
Raghav, initially, was not part of the school's expedition team shortlisted after testing physical and mental endurance level of the consenting students.
"I requested our team leader Colonel Neeraj Rana to take me in the squad as I was really keen on taking up this challenge. I had to prove them during our acclimatisation sessions at Ladakh that I can summit the Everest. Then only I was allowed to become a part of this journey," he said.
Besides Raghav, Ajay Sohal (17) Prithvi Chahal (17) Shubham Kaushik (16), Fateh Brar (16) Guribadat Singh (17) climbed the peak while one of their teammate Hakikat Grewal had to retreat from 27,600 ft after facing problems with his oxygen mask.
"Safety was our major concern. There were some very dangerous passages during the climb. But our sherpas (local guides) made sure that everyone reaches the top safely," said Colonel P S Grewal who accompanied the team till the base camp.
The team now harbours ambitions to scale Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents, which is regarded as a mountaineering challenge.