Block mountains

The call to the mountains

A versatile teenager on ‘Mission Sahas’
Kaamya Karthikeyan, 14, is the recipient of the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakti Puraskar in 2021. Daughter of Indian Navy Commander S Karthikeyan and Lavanya Karthikeyan, Kaamya’s encounter with the mountains began when her mother made a unscheduled trip to Vaishno Devi Shrine in Jammu due to sudden roadblock on Jammu-Srinagar road.

In fact, Kaamya, who recently received a commendation from the Executive Director of the National Cadet Corps (NCC), embarked on the ultimate mountaineering challenge – “The Explorers Grand Slam” or “Mission Sahas” – for become the youngest in the world to reach the highest peak on each continent and ski to the North and South Poles.
As part of Mission Sahas, Kaamya has already reached the highest peaks in South America (Mt. Aconcagua; 22,837 ft), Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro; 18,652 ft), Europe (Mt. Elbrouz ; 18,510 ft) and Australia (Mount Kosciusko; 7,310 ft). Striving to meet the challenge by 2023, Kaamya hopes to become the youngest in the world to achieve the feat at just 15 years old.

In addition to the above, Kaamya has accomplished several unprecedented mountaineering feats, including three world records. In August 2017, she became the youngest girl to reach a summit of around 20,000 feet (6,000 m) while climbing 20,187 feet. great Mount Stok Kangri. Making it look like a walk in the park, this youngster, who reached the top of Mount Aconcagua in South America, also raced down the top of Mount Elbrus in Europe.
“Inspired by my father’s mountaineering activities, I started hiking the Sahyadris at the age of three. Mom also accompanies me on certain expeditions. My Himalayan odyssey started at seven o’clock, with a high altitude trek to Chandrashila peak (12,000 feet) in 2015, ”says Kaamya.
Since then, she has moved on to more difficult and higher treks and peaks like Har-ki Dun, Kedarkantha, Lake Brighu, Sar Pass and Roopkund Lake, and Mount Mentok Kangri II in Ladakh. In May 2017, Kaamya traveled to Everest Base Camp in Nepal at 17,600 feet, to become the second youngest girl in the world to accomplish the feat. As recently as September 2021, she embarked on a daring ascent of Mount Trishul-I (23,359 ft), a peak well known for its rigors and dangers.

“Unfortunately the climb had to be halted at 19,000 feet due to the extreme bad weather. But I promised the mountains that I would come back and complete the climb,” Kaamya says.
In June 2022, Kaamya attempts to reach the summit of Mount Denali in Alaska, the highest peak in North America. She even aims to travel to Antarctica and ski to the South Pole and North Pole. Mount Everest, the ultimate Explorers Grand Slam challenge, is expected to be completed in May 2023.
In preparation for the upcoming climbs, Kaamya underwent 45 days of rigorous training at the Indian Army’s High Altitude War School in Gulmarg on January 21. After completing a basic mountaineering course in Arunachal Pradesh, she plans to take the advanced course and training at Siachen Base Camp in February 2022.

An academically brilliant student, Kaamya also devoted himself to the fine arts by learning to play the piano, guitar, Western and Carnatic chants, and giving stage performances of Bharatanatyam.

Summarizing her motivational message in one line, “If I can, you can,” Kaamya adds a message for International Mountain Day: “I see huge prospects in the mountain adventure tourism sector, bringing more people in the mountains and a visible improvement in the lives of the simple people of the region. But as a responsible mountaineer, I firmly believe that we must focus on sustainable mountain tourism, to ensure that in the pursuit of growth we do not destroy fragile mountain ecosystems and biodiversity. I want to see India and the Indians leave their mark on the mountaineering world.

Asthma defeated to set a world record
It never occurred to me, even in my wildest imagination, that one day I would climb the tallest mountains and volcanoes around the world or ski to sticks, ”says Satyarup Siddhanta, 38. “After all, how crazy can a dream get for someone who was asthmatic until their college days, someone who couldn’t even run 100 yards without an inhaler?” “
But the seeds of adventure sprouted in the youngster during a trek in the Parvathamalai of Tamil Nadu. Soon he was exploring the Western Ghats where he says bigger dreams of Everest were conceived. And two and a half years later, Satyarup was at Everest Base Camp.

After many ups and downs, failures and setbacks, Satyarup today holds the Guinness Book of World Records for being the youngest conqueror of the seven highest peaks in the world and the seven volcanic peaks on seven continents between 2012 and 2019, including Mount Everest, Mont Blanc and the Carstensz Pyramid. He has also skied the last degree to the South Pole and is preparing for the last degree of North Pole skiing in April.
Sharing his message on International Mountain Day, Satyarup says, “The mountains have made me a better human being. However, rapid urbanization and the exponential growth of unplanned tourism put a lot of pressure on the safety, security and livelihoods of local mountain people. Massive deforestation without replenishment is causing unprecedented landslides, retreating glaciers, frequent avalanches and climate change. Sustainable mountain tourism must be developed but not to the detriment of the ecology, flora and fauna and the sacredness of the place. On this International Mountain Day, let us commit to saving the treasure – our mountains. “

The vegan technician who climbed Mount Everest
40-year-old computer professional, Kuntal Joisher is an accomplished mountaineer who has climbed Mount Everest from the Nepalese side (May 2016) and the Chinese side (May 2019). Apart from that, Kuntal also climbed Mt Lhotse in 2018 (the 4th highest mountain in the world) and Mt Manaslu (the 8th highest mountain in the world).
Besides mountaineering, Kuntal is passionate about three causes: raising awareness of dementia, spreading the message of veganism and educating disadvantaged people in Nepal.
What stands out about him is that even the jacket he wore on his Everest expedition was 100% animal-free and partly made from recycled materials. Plus, he aims to climb the seven highest peaks in the world on an all-vegan diet.
“It is widely accepted that animal protein and dairy products are needed for strenuous physical activities such as mountaineering. But I could train, climb, and maintain high altitude on a cruelty-free vegan diet that typically includes vegetable stews and soups, fruit, lentils, wheat bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, noodles, dried fruits, nuts, nutrition bars, electrolytes and energy powders, soybeans, oatmeal cookies and some local snacks, ”says Kuntal.
The multi-talented Kuntal is also a photographer whose work has featured in National Geographic, BBC Earth and the Himalayan Journal, among others. He was also named one of the top 30 fitness influencers in India.
“During my trekking and climbing journey, which spans over a decade, the mountains have been a great mentor to me and transformed me. I ask all young people who aspire to climb the mountains. most difficult and highest peaks in the world to train hard, to remain humble and above all to respect the mountains, to climb safely and to enjoy nature, ”he says.

Solo at Mount Manaslu, without supplemental oxygen
Anurag Nallavelli, a 29-year-old technician from Hyderabad who works in the United States, first went to the mountains when he got stranded on a farm during the pandemic-induced lockdown in March 2020. The mountains have brought about a massive metamorphosis in his way of life. On September 28, 2021, Anurag became the first Indian mountaineer to climb Mount Manaslu (the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8,163 meters or 26,781 feet above sea level) solo, without a sherpa guide or even supplemental oxygen.