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‘The first step is crucial for everyone’, says India’s youngest Everester Poorna Malavath

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 3 (IANS) Taking the first step is very important and one should have the courage to move away from one’s comfort zone, said mountaineer Poorna Malavath, the youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest.

On 25 May 2014, Poorna climbed the Mount Everest aged 13 years and 11 months to become the youngest Indian and the youngest female to have reached the summit. Purna also climbed Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe in July 2017.

Speaking at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL 2023) here, the climber from Telangana recalled her journey to the top of the world.

Poorna said she had no idea about mountain climbing when she grew up in Pakala in Telangana, which was part of Andhra Pradesh when she was born.

“My village was so remote that even to get a matchbox, we had to travel 7 km to the nearest shop. The nearest hospital was 60 km from my village,” she said.

Poorna recalled that the first rock climbing training had her literally shivering when one of the participants from her group fell down and suffered head injury which needed medical attention.

But the successful completion made her determined to continue her journey in adventure sports.

“Many people were questioning me about my choice and they were wondering why anyone, let alone a girl, would want to go climbing mountains. For them, a girl was supposed to go to school for a while, then get married and settle down,” she said.

The champion climber, who features in the elite group of climbers to conquer the seven summits (seven highest peaks across the globe), said her decision to continue despite the scary rock climbing training she got initially changed her life trajectory.

“At 13, I decided to pursue rock climbing and here I am, standing in front of you as a postgraduate who has climbed Mt Everest and the seven summits. My friend who got married at 13 now sends her children to the same school where we studied together,” she said.

Poorna said she got her parents to support her passion by instilling confidence in them about her ability and seriousness.

“Make your parents confident about your ability to achieve your aim and then they will support you,” she told a 30-year-old who said she was struggling to gain confidence of her parents even for routine chores.

The mountaineering expert said she wants to set up a system which will support young enthusiasts, especially girls, to venture into adventure sports like mountain climbing.

Poorna, who was listed on the Forbes India list of self-made women in 2020, said she plans to personally help anyone who wants to know about adventure sports.