A 16-year-old Delhi school boy on Saturday had a brief tryst with destiny, equaling the world record of being the youngest to step atop the world's highest peak, only to have his feat overturned hours later by a 13-year-old American. Arjun Bajpayee, became the youngest Indian to climb the 8,848 metre Mount Everest early today morning via the traditional South Col route in Nepal.
He equaled the record of Nepalese boy, Sherpa Temba Tsheri, who also climbed the peak when he was sixteen. But a few hours later, Californian boy Jordan Romero broke his record by climbing the peak from the tough North Eastern ridge route in Tibet. The Californian is on a quest to climb all the highest peaks in the seven continents.
The two youngsters could have had a tryst atop the world's highest summit, but apparently missed each other by a whisker, as Bajpayee, after a short stay atop, made his way back for the descent. Bajpayee climbed the peak at 6.33 am on Saturday morning in the company of Apa Sherpa, 50, who became the first man to climb the peak for a record 20th time. Sherpa broke his own record of climbing the world's highest peak the maximum number of times.
Another Indian woman, Mamta Sodha, also reached the summit today at 10.24 am , four hours after the young Indian. The feat of the two was conveyed to PTI on phone by Chunu Shrestha of the Asian Trekkers who had organised the expedition. Earlier on May 17, two other Indian climbers had reached the summit.
Arjun, a Class 12 student of Ryan International School, completed a basic course in mountaineering from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi. After taking part in a number of expeditions, he set his sights on Mount Everest.
Arjun was accompanied by a 12-member team, nine of whom were from the United States, Denmark, Switzerland and Australia, while the remaining three were Indians. The team was led by Apa Sherpa who had already scaled the summit a record 19 times. In fact, the expedition was also aiming to carry the ashes of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to scale the peak with Tenzing Norgay in 1953, to bury them atop the summit.
But the proposal was given up as it was feared to offend the religious sentiments of the Sherpas, who reside on the foothills of the peak. The Delhi school boy broke the record of Krushnaa Patil, 18, from Maharashtra who became the youngest Indian to reach the highest peak in 2009.
Arjun began his quest in April, when his team set up their base camp at the Khumbu Glacier. The team spent another 40 days acclimatizing there. The team set up three to four high altitude camps before making the epic summit bid today.