An Indian teenager has climbed to new heights – literally – after her successful summit of Mount Everest, our world’s highest peak. The 13-year-old girl, a daughter of a poor Indian farming family, has taken the title as the youngest person to reach the 29,029 peak of Everest.
Malavath Poorna, who comes from a small tribal village in Tibet, trained for approximately one year, but had never before set foot on another mountain. On May 25, she made it to the top of Everest, making the ascent via the northern Tibetan route, where there are no age restrictions on climbers.
At 13 years and 11 months, Poorna comes into the record books just one month younger than the previous record-setter: American Jordan Romero, a fellow 13-year-old teen from California who reached the peak with his father in 2010.
The young female climber’s record-breaking ascent came just one month after Everest’s most deadliest avalanche to date. On April 18, sixteen Nepalese guides lost their life. The bodies of thirteen of the sixteen Sherpas who died were recovered. Search teams called off the retrieval of the remaining three men.
Still, Poorna said she saw other climbers who lost their lives. Over 200 individuals have lost their lives on Everest; many of the bodies are entombed on the mountain, the frigid air and oxygen-deprived atmosphere slowing the decay. “I saw six dead bodies,” she said. “I was shocked. Oh, my god!” Poorna said the bodies frightened her but she “immediately I remember my parents… and I got my courage and strength, energy."
“When I reached the top, I felt too much emotion, too much joy,” the teen said. “All around me, beauty – mountains, sunshine, clouds. I could feel God there. I was grateful and too happy.”
Poorna talked about one of the challenges she faced: not the difficulty of the climb as much as the packaged food. “I did not like its smell or taste,” she explained. “I wanted to go home and eat my mother's food.”
Along with the teen’s parents, her school – the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions – assisted in her training. Her record-breaking climb was verified by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association in Lhasa.
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