Kathmandu, July 25 (IANS) Wonder teen Arjun Vajpai, who last year became the youngest Indian to conquer Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, is now seeking to become India’s king of the Himalayas by bagging yet another towering peak in the autumn.
While his peers dream of winning reality shows on television, the 12th grader from Noida’s Ryan International School aspires to a “grand slam”.
It means summiting the 14 highest peaks in the world, the Himalayan ranges towering above “Death Zone”, the 8,000-metre plus region where breathing alone is a huge battle due to scarcity of oxygen in the rarefied air.
In addition, he would also have to tame the Seven Summits, the seven highest peaks in seven continents.
The first step was taken in 2010 when Arjun – then 17-year-old – scaled the 8,848-metre Mt Everest.
It was followed by another record-setting feat two months ago when he summited Mt Lhotse, the fourth highest peak in the world at 8,516 metres, and became the youngest climber in the world to achieve the ascent.
Now, the 18-year-old will be back in Nepal to attempt Mt Manaslu, the eighth of the 14th 8,000-metre peaks and one of the most dangerous.
No Indian has climbed all the 14 8,000-metre peaks so far, a task fraught with political barriers.
Two of these are in Pakistan – Mt K2, the second highest peak at 8,611 metres, and Nanga Parbat (8,125 metres), the ninth highest.
Three more straddle the border between Pakistan and China – Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I and II – while one, Mt Shishapangma, lies between China and Tibet.
Due to the political tension between India and these countries, Indian climbers are deterred by the thought of problems in getting a visa.
After the Manaslu expedition in September-October, Arjun is also hoping to go to the Poles in December.
Indians, especially women, have recently begun to make a name for themselves as intrepid adventurers and climbers.
Along with Arjun, Anshu Jamsenpa, a mother of two from Arunachal Pradesh, created a climbing record in May when she became the first and only Indian to summit Mt Everest twice in less than a week.