At a time when the country is reeling under the second wave of COVID-19, a team of 13 youngsters went on a two-week expedition (April 2 to April 16) to the Mt Everest Base Camp, located at an altitude of 5,360 m. Led by mountaineer Romil Barthwal, the team included Muriki Pulakita Hasvi (13) and Rohan Reddy Thumma (13) from Hyderabad.
Speaking from Nepal about her experience, Hasvi says she was excited about the idea right from the start. “Romil Sir was my father’s trainer too, so when he mooted the idea to my father, he encouraged me to go,” she says.
Since this was her maiden mountaineering trip, Hasvi researched the topic. “I am into sports; I am a national-level skater, and now I am training in Badminton. I was fascinated with mountaineering,” the Standard IX student shares.
She embarked on the expedition taking all the necessary precautions against COVID-19. Since Hasvi was already into sports, fitness was not a problem. However, the trip wasn’t a cakewalk either. After the first day, Hasvi suffered from altitude sickness and complained of vomiting body pain, headache and dizziness.
“But the best thing I did was not push or force myself; I took things slowly. When I saw others team members pushing on, I was motivated to resume,” she recalls. “I saw nature from very close quarters. Meditating in a natural environment feels so peaceful and serene,” Hasvi says. She wants to be the youngest girl to scale the Seven Summits.
Rohan Reddy Thumma was never into mountaineering, it was his dad who persuaded him to give it a shot. He was initially apprehensive about joining the expedition, fearing the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“I did some research, and learnt that the expedition would be based in Nepal, where there aren’t too many cases. So I decided to go,” says Rohan with a smile.
Just like Hasvi, Rohan’s prep too started three months before the expedition. Walking, running, hitting the gym and leg workouts were part of the training.
“But I should have done breathing exercises, as I suffered a lot initially,” he says, adding that he also made the mistake of carrying a lot of weight in his backpack. He too suffered from vomiting, backache, shoulder pains, leg pains and fatigue on the first day. In fact, it was so bad that the team decided to send him back.
“I felt very bad when I was asked to be prepared to go back. I took strength from the fact that my parents had worked hard and spent a lot for this trip. I didn’t want to let them down,” reveals Rohan. “I was a different person from then on,” he says. Rohan completed the expedition, but jokes that he doesn’t remember half of it, he was so tired!
“It’s our resolve that’ll take us through,” says Rohan, also a student of Standard IX. He feels the expedition was more like a life lesson than an achievement. “I have learnt that one should never give up and that our bodies can take a lot; it’s the mindset that matters,” says the young lad, who is also into basketball and swimming.