A family of mountain climbers
In an admirable feat, Eastern Naval Commander S. Karthikeyan from Vizag, along with his wife Lavanya and daughter Kaamya Karthikeyan recently scaled Mt. Elbrus (18,510 mts) in Russia, their second family expedition after Kilimanjaro.
Describing the genesis of these family expeditions, 39-year-old Lavanya says, “My husband has been mountaineering for a long time. My daughter drew inspiration from him and started liking it. When my husband was scaling Mt. Everest last year, we went till the Base Camp to wish him luck. It was then that we realised that she has the potential to go on expeditions.”
Lavanya also reveals a funny fact behind her joining the expedition. “My daughter is a Bharatanatyam dancer and loves Carnatic music. She is fond of her long tresses. Since it would be difficult for her to manage during these expeditions, I started accompanying her only to manage her locks,” she quips.
Together, the trio has already scaled great heights. After a short trip to Mt. Stok Kangri (6154 mts) in Leh, their first big family expedition was to Mt Kilimanjaro in October 2017, followed by the recent Mt. Elbrus.
Talking about the expedition, Lavanya says, “This was the toughest expedition so far; it was bitterly cold and Kaamya was shivering. Unfortunately, there were no snow boots available in her size. So we had to get crampons and fit them to her shoes so that she wouldn’t slip in the snow. But we really felt so humble after reaching the top.”
The family started climbing at midnight on the 14th and took around 9 hours to scale the mountain. “I was never a fitness freak; and only started mountaineering for my daughter. Later on however, I started enjoying it without even realising it,” states Lavanya, adding, “Expeditions keep me young at heart.”
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Kaamya shares that she used to cycle 20 kilometres per day for the last 6 months and trek for 6 hours during weekends around Vizag to prepare for the expedition.
Apart from physical fitness, Kaamya says that such expeditions have shaped her personality and ability to multi-task. For Karthikeyan and Lavanya, the expedition couldn’t have come at a better time as it coincided with their 15th wedding anniversary. “We wished each other at midnight,” shares Lavanya.
Karthikeyan adds, “Scaling Mt Elbrus with the family was a happy moment which I was able to treasure. Also, the day before scaling it, it was Father’s Day and my daughter greeted me; it was a great coincidence.”