'I Wanted to Jump With Excitement at the Summit'

Published: June 08, 2014 14:56 IST
(At 13, Malavath Poorna is the youngest girl to climb the world's highest peak - Mount Everest. She is a Class IX student in a government-run social welfare hostel in Telangana's Nizamabad district).
I was very excited when I reached the summit of Mount Everest. I spent 15 minutes there and  was extremely happy and felt very proud. I unfurled the national flag, the Telangana flag and my school's flag. I wanted to jump with excitement but the oxygen level there is too low. After we returned to the base camp, we rested for 18 hours and then jumped with excitement, screaming - "We did it!"

My parents are very proud of me but my biggest achievement is yet to come. I want to study hard and become an IPS officer.

When I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I congratulated him on becoming PM and he said "beti, I have to congratulate you". We both laughed and congratulated each other. He asked me about my parents, my training. I showed him my photo album and he patiently looked at each and every photograph and asked questions about them. He spent 20 minutes with us, gave me a certificate and posed for photos with us. I will never forget this moment -- it made me very happy and I felt very special.

I decided to scale Mount Everest in September 2013. This happened within eight months; it's not like this was a childhood dream. 'Secretary Sir' (IPS Officer Dr R S Praveen Kumar, Secretary of the Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society) was my inspiration. Nearly 300 students were shortlisted from my school to attend a five-day rock-climbing course at Bhongir Rock Climbing School. This was where it all began.

I took up the training as a challenge. I wanted to fulfil the dream of 'Secretary Sir'. 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 that was sent for a basic five-day rock-climbing course to the Rock Climbing School in Bhongir (Nalgonda District, Telangana).

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. 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. We were then sent for the Himalayan Mountaineering Course where we learnt about glaciers and ice-climbing. This training lasted 20 days. From this group, they selected nine of us and we were trained for two months. After that, we were taken for 'winter training' to Ladakh; they wanted to see if we were fit enough to weather the cold and if we were mentally tough.

I come from a very poor family. I study in a primary school in my village. My parents are agricultural labourers and they work in the fields. They earn only Rs 250-300 a day. There were days we did not have any food to eat and went to bed hungry. I have an elder brother who is studying to be an engineer.

Before leaving for the expedition, I told my family members that I was very confident of my success and would come back a winner. They wished me luck and encouraged me; they were also very confident, not nervous.

I carried a photograph of Dr BR Ambedkar as he has given so many opportunities to Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe students. He is like a God for me. His work for the underprivileged means so much to me.

The most challenging moments for me were eating packaged food, seeing dead bodies and braving the cold weather; it was -50 degrees.

I hate packaged food but there was no choice, so I had muesli, soup, dried fruit and chocolates. At the base camp we enjoyed biryani. It is my favourite food.

I was extremely scared when I saw bodies during the last leg of my climb, but I remembered my school's 10 commandments. I also thought of my parents, I prayed to God and got my courage back.

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