8-year-old Indian mountaineer sets world record

Saanvi Sood

On the snowy slopes of Mt Elbrus, the tallest peak of Russia, 8-year-old Saanvi faced a tough climb with her team of 50 trekkers, including her father Deepak Sood, member of RC Roopnagar, RID 3080. Things took an unfortunate turn when Sood had a fall and could not continue the trek. Undeterred, Saanvi pressed on, guided by her father’s encouraging words over a walkie talkie. Navigating through the challenges, she reached the summit at 5,642m, setting a Guinness World Record of being the youngest climber to summit Mt Elbrus. “It felt like I was standing on the clouds. I also got a chance to plant the Indian flag on the summit,” she says.

On their return, Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann honoured her at a state-level event. PRIP Rajendra Saboo and RI Director Raju Subramanian felicitated her at the ­installation ceremony of RC ­Roopnagar. She also received recognition from the Indian Book of Records and the Asia Book of Records. Saanvi is now a youth brand ambassador for MentorX, an US-based international early talent provider with offices in 45 countries.

With her father Deepak Sood.

Saanvi’s journey began when she accompanied her father to his worksite in Kedarnath, Himachal Pradesh. Despite the challenging weather conditions, she displayed remarkable energy and enthusiasm, revealing her love for climbing and long walks. Convincing her grandparents and mother took some persuasion, but once they agreed, her father dedicated time to training her.

“We worked as a team,” says Saanvi, recalling how her father took her to the gym for daily exercise, while her mother ensured she stayed up to date with school lessons and activities. “Saanvi’s discipline and motivation were unwavering, waking up early for training and adhering to her schedule. Her resilience and enthusiasm amazed me,” says her father.

At age six, Saanvi joined her father on a trek to Manali, completing the Rohtang Pass trek covering 18km in a single day. Next, they completed the Everest Base Camp trek, and “I asked her if she would be interested in climbing international peaks. She immediately said ‘yes’,” says Sood. They chose Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, first for its climatic conditions and terrain. In July 2022, Saanvi ­successfully completed this trek. In May 2023, the dynamic father-daughter duo decided to conquer the ­2,228m-Mt Kosciusko, Australia’s highest peak.
“A comparatively easier trek,” he adds and recalls that the “moment we completed the summit, we hugged each other and celebrated!”

Saanvi being felicitated by Usha and PRIP Rajendra Saboo, and RID Raju Subramanian. Also in the picture (from L) Saanvi’s farther Deepak Sood, RC Roopnagar president Namrita Parmar, club member Ajay Talwar and DGE Rajpal Singh.

While Saanvi initially embarked on her treks without a specific purpose, “we wanted to help her understand the responsibility that comes with such achievements. We asked her to think about a cause that she liked and wanted to support. She came up with the theme Girl Power and she will promote the empowerment of girls during her future climbs,” smiles Sood.

He encourages parents to “recognise and nurture your child’s potential, embrace their uniqueness and watch them achieve great heights.” Saanvi’s mother Geethika says being recognised as “Saanvi’s Mom” in various social and educational circles is a matter of “great pride.” For Saanvi, the most cherished aspect of her treks is “the time spent with Papa and climbing mountains.”

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