Looks are deceptive. At first glance, Malavath Poorna comes across like any other teenager — petite with delicate features and a contagious smile, but Malavath is no ordinary girl. The 18-year-old holds the record of being the youngest girl to scale Mount Everest in 2014. She was 13, and studying in Class 9 when she went on ‘top of the world’.
And her subsequent expeditions have only proved that she’s just not a one-day wonder, but an inspirational force to reckon with. She has scaled six peaks in six continents — the latest being Mt Vinson Massif in Antarctica on December 26 — thereby becoming the first and youngest tribal woman in the world to set foot on the six tallest mountain peaks across six continents.
Ask her how’s the feeling like, and she beams, “It’s always surreal! The summit of each peak is a culmination of a different story. It was a sense of accomplishment beyond words. With the challenge being in getting adjusted to the different mountain conditions of every time, The Swaeroes Ten Commandments that was taught me not to give up held the key to the success.” She further adds, “More than accomplishments, I would like to call them ‘Milestones’. And since these milestones fall in the path of what I am enjoying the most, I have no complaints at all.”
As a part of her endeavour to scale seven expeditions (the dream of every mountaineer), Malavath has now set her eyes on Mt. Denali, North America’s highest mountain peak.
So what next after that and she replies, “I have no concrete plans of what to do after Denali. My focus is currently on giving my best for Mt. Denali.” She adds that her love for the Mountains is forever. “IPS Officer RS Praveen sir (TSWREIS secretary) is my mentor and role model. She wanted to become a civil servant and get into public service. Also, mountaineer Sekhar Babu sir (of Transcend Adventures) has been extremely supportive. Their support was not just for mountaineering, but the other aspects of my life as well,” reveals the Pakala village resident of Nizamabad district.
The US Consulate was so impressed with Poorna’s achievements that they felt she was the right kind of student to be sent to the US as a part of International Student Exchange Programme for Indian Students.
Poorna, who is currently pursuing Bachelor’s program at the Minnesota State University, has over the years, aced up the art of managing studies and mountaineering. “The faculty in my University have been very helpful in making me take up my mountaineering projects without any problem. I usually cover up for the lost days at the school through my flat mates,” she reveals.
According to her, mountaineering made her more patient and introduced her to a world of opportunities. Reflecting on her journey, she describes, “It’s as difficult as climbing a mountain! Nothing less than that if not more.”
Her family has always been the first set of people to support her. “The support system always begins from home, with my parents — father Devi Das, mother Lakshmi, and elder brother. Without them I would not have been part of anything,” she says.
Poorna says that she believes in destiny, and adds that she was destined to climb mountains. “When I started off, I really did not know about the sport of Mountaineering. All I knew was that I enjoyed playing sports. When rock climbing was introduced to me at Rock Climbing School at Bhongir several years back, I took to it as a sport which was completely new and very exciting. And what happened after that is a story that everyone knows,” she says. “Have a go… Just crack it… women can do anything in this world,” she says.
Poorna says that she comes across as a “Sensitive, fun-loving and a smiling next-door girl.” Her other interests include bike riding, travelling and spending time with friends.