Malavath Poorna was born in the Nizamabad district, Telangana. Belonging to a state that did not see a hill, let alone a mountain, to summiting the Mount Everest at the age of 13, her story is truly outstanding.
Poorna had arrived at the base camp of Mount Everest after 8 months of arduous mountaineering training. When she first saw Mount Everest she blithely said to her coach, ”It is not that tall. We can scale it in one day’’. This innocent optimism yoked with her determination made her the youngest girl ever to summit Mount Everest on 25th May, 2014 along with her 17 year old friend S Anand Kumar.
It was her school’s PT teacher who asked her if she had ever heard of mountaineering or Mount Everest. That question marks the beginning of her journey and the answer is a History. She begins her training by climbing the steep Bhongir rock in the Telangana district. As a part of further, more expertised training, she had to scale Mount Renock at 17000 feet in the Himalayan ranges followed by acclimatization in the mountains around Ladakh in -35 degrees Celsius. She instinctively seemed to know which rock crevices will work as footholds and how to pull herself up slowly.
The only 2 things that scared Malavath Poorna…
The first time she climbed Bhongir rock was one of the only two times Poorna was terrified in her entire mountaineering experience. The news of 17 deaths in the avalanche around the area did not scare her. She did not flinch an inch back when her coach, out of sheer concern asked Poorna and Anand to come back because of recent advancements. The only other time she was terrified was when she saw corpses in the final stretch of her climb. They were there because nobody could reach the bodies to take them home.
Malavath’s story and the lucidity with which she talks is startling. When she describes about her experience of scaling the Everest she mentions about her ill health in a very passing fashion. Instead, she focuses on great lengths about her 15 minutes ‘on the top of the world‘. The first thing she did was to call Officer RS Praveen Kumar through a satellite phone. He had been a constant support throughout the training and pushed her to be her best. ”He said congratulations and that was enough,’’ she says.
Malavath and Anand were wearing oxygen masks that they had carried from the base camp. She vividly describes how after hoisting the flag she and Anand took pictures of each other. They began the journey back to the base camp after capturing the scene that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
The entire expedition lasted for 52 days. She and her friend had carried packed food and oxygen tanks from the base camp. However, she explains that since the food did not sit well with her, she had to survive on dry fruits and liquids.
The quintessential belief…
In all the number of interviews, she draws attention to one quintessential reason she climbed the Everest for, ”Girls can achieve whatever they want.” ”People think girls can not do everything, but in my experience they can,” she says sturdily. Malavath Poorna has impeccably stayed true to her words.
Picture courtesy: India Times, Aaj Tak