How I Scaled the World's Highest Peak

Published: June 08, 2014 14:41 IST
(Sadhanapally Anand Kumar, 17, is the first Dalit to climb the world's highest peak - Mount Everest. He is a Class XII student in a government-run social welfare hostel in Telangana's Khammam district. He wants to be an IPS officer.) 

When I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi after climbing Mount Everest, we congratulated each other. He said that we had made every Indian very proud. He asked about my family, our climb and the training. He gave me a certificate, a shawl and a gift. I will open the gift only when I meet Secretary Sir.

The PM also said that if we ever needed any help, we could contact him.

I come from an extremely poor family. My father Kondala Rao works at a cycle shop. My mother, Laxmi, is an agricultural labourer. Sometimes we didn't have food to eat - we would boil dried chillies and onion, add some salt and just drink that. My favourite food is mutton curry but it is too expensive. My father would borrow money and bring us some chicken (mutton we couldn't afford at all). I have a younger brother, he is in Class X.

We live in a very small hut which has holes in the roof. During the rainy season, there were nights I would wake up to see my parents standing, all drenched. Because our hut was so small, their side would always get flooded and they had no choice but to stand; there was not enough space. I used to feel terrible and would often weep. Our corner would be dry so they would let us sleep while they just stood through the night.

When I was leaving for Mount Everest, I asked my family to be confident and to have faith in me. They were excited and wished me luck.

I first thought about climbing Mount Everest after a five-day course at the Bhongir Rock Climbing School at Nalgonda District, Telangana. We were trained by Shekhar Babu sir and Parmesh Kumar sir; I saw videos of Shekhar Babu sir at the summit and I think that's what inspired me. I too wanted to scale the world's highest peak. Of course, before this course, I had never thought that I would one day climb the Everest. 

I wanted to fulfill the dream of our 'Secretary Sir' (IPS Officer Dr R S Praveen Kumar is Secretary, Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society). My trainers - Shekhar Babu sir and Parmesh Kumar sir - worked very hard and kept encouraging me. I was part of a group of 110 children who were sent for a basic five-day rock-climbing course to Bhongir. 

During this course, my trainers felt I was strong and able and they decided to train me further - with the aim of scaling the Everest. The training lasted eight months; we began in September 2013. This training usually takes two years but we were able to complete it in eight months. After the five-day course, they chose 20 children who were then sent for the Himalayan Mountaineering Course, where we learnt about glaciers and ice-climbing. This training lasted for 20 days. From this group, they then selected nine of us and we were trained for two months. After this training we were taken for "winter training" to Ladakh. They wanted to see if we were fit and mentally tough enough to weather the cold.

I am very proud to be an Indian and wanted to unfurl the national flag, Telangana's flag and my school flag at the summit. I also carried a photograph of Dr B R Ambedkar for his work; they are of huge sentimental value.

There were many challenging moments during the climb. It is a death zone - the three toughest things were braving the cold, the climb itself and eating packaged food. I survived on muesli, milk and chocolate.

During the last leg of my climb, I came across something that looked like a body, but I wasn't sure. So I asked the Sherpa and he confirmed my worst fears. I was shocked and scared. But I remembered my promise to my parents and 'Secretary Sir'. I thought of my school's ten commandments and those gave me strength:

    I am not inferior to anyone

    I shall be the leader wherever I am

    I shall do what I love and be different

    I shall always think big and aim high

    I shall be honest to hardworking and punctual

    I shall never blame others for my failures

    I shall never beg and cheat

    I shall repay what I borrow

    I shall never fear the unknown

    I shall never give up 

When I finally reached the peak of Mount Everest, I remembered 'Secretary Sir'; I had fulfilled his dream. I thought of my parents and my family and of course my school. I unfurled the national flag, the Telangana flag and my school's flag - it was a very, very proud moment. My mother was in tears when I called her after our descent.

I am a student in the science stream and I want to become an IPS officer. 'Secretary Sir' is my role model. My favourite subject is English.

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