Sitting in the cosy comfort of his home in Chennai and scrolling through breathtaking images of him summiting the Everest Base Camp on his mother’s mobile, Ovium Lakshmanan, son of RID 3232 AG Vidya Ragu, brings back to life the trials and triumphs of his extraordinary journey. “It feels like only yesterday that I stood in awe before the mighty Himalayas, pushing the boundaries of my physical and mental strength,” he says. The Everest Base Camp is at 5,364 metres (17,600 ft) on the Himalayas. The 11-year-old completed the trek in seven days and created a record as the ‘fastest child to complete Mt Everest Base Camp trek’ in the Asia Book of Records.
Tusita, 12-year-old daughter of Mahesh Pattabhiraman, a member of RC Madras East, who also completed the trek with another group, says, “this was a wonderful experience and it has changed me as a person.” As her group of eight left Kathmandu to reach Ramechhap, “we passed through the bustling city and the scene gradually changed into more rural surroundings. The road wound through hills and small villages, providing us with glimpses of traditional Nepalese life. We also crossed rivers, terraced fields and lush green forests, adding to the scenic charm of our journey.”
Ovium adds that “one of the highlights of our drive was the view of the Himalayan range. As it was a clear day, we were happy to see the snow-capped mountains in the distance, creating a breathtaking backdrop for our ride.”
At Ramechhap “we boarded a plane that could seat only 10 people to fly to Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal, considered a very dangerous airport because of its geographical location combined with factors such as a very short runway and limited electricity. It was exciting because we had the whole plane to ourselves. The flight was comfortable and I wasn’t scared,” says Tusita. Ovium described this flight as “a minibus in the sky. It was thrilling!”
He marvelled at the sherpas, “the unsung heroes, who guided and supported us every step of the way. They possessed an intimate knowledge of the terrain and the weather patterns, and ensured a safe and successful trek for us. My sherpas were equally tired and yet ran to serve us hot beverages and food during our stay at the base camp where the place was short-staffed. From navigating treacherous paths to erecting tents in harsh conditions, they ensured that each trekker had the opportunity to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Everest region.”
Both the children enjoyed the food served throughout the trek. Despite Ovium’s initial reservations about the “unfamiliar rajma and dal,” he took “a hesitant bite and was instantly transported to heaven. The flavours were different, yummy and healthy.” Tusita became “extremely fond of the dal bhaat and the hot chocolate served at a café in Namche village.”
Meeting a scientist who had done the base camp trek 58 times, and an 82-year-old man who planned to trek to Camp 2 at 21,000 ft, were “inspirational” for Ovium. “I was also lucky to see the Sun Dog phenomenon, a rare event where a circular rainbow surrounds the sun. It was mind-blowing.”
Talking about their triumphant arrival at the Everest Base Camp, the Annets remembered the biting cold winds, their frozen faces and the overwhelming sense of achievement that washed over all the difficulties. “Despite the exhaustion, I felt elated to be standing at the foot of the world’s highest peak holding the Indian flag, followed by the RID 3232 Annets banner. I was proud of what I had accomplished.” For Tusita this trek was “an amazing experience and has armed me with lessons I can use to achieve my own potential.”