Seven years ago, a sunset view from atop the Sayadri Hills in Pune fascinated 10-year-old Arjun Vajpai. He was at his grandmother’s house in Pune for the summer holidays when his father’s friend Col Jodh Singh Dhillon asked Arjun if he would like to trek to the Sayadri Hills. He agreed at once.
Seven years later, Arjun scaled Mount Everest and recently he scaled the neighbouring Mount Lhotse. This November, the 17-yearold student of Ryan International School, Noida, is all set to go on an expedition to the South Pole.
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After taking the basic course in mountaineering from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, Arjun was spotted by his instructors when he climbed an 18,892 feet mountain as part of his training.
Mt Lhotse, which is 332m below Mt Everest, taught Arjun that all mountains are not the same. Guided by two sherpas, Arjun made his way to Mt Lhotse’s top. The journey wasn’t easy.
He recalls, “After a height of 8,000 m, there is a dead zone. Climbing beyond that became difficult and required technical expertise. There is a gully, which is 500m long and difficult to tread because the area was full of loose rocks, ice and steep slopes. It was more challenging than climbing Mt Everest but it made me understand the technicalities of climbing,” says Arjun.
One has to be physically fit to brave the extreme changes in temperature. “Food habits change drastically while on expedition. While training, I have a 5,000-calorie diet, which comprises 15 eggs, half kilogramme of chicken and mutton, and also three-four litres of milk and calcium. Once you are on the mountain, you lose about 11,000 calories. Besides, I do a range of exercises that help me build my core, muscles and strength,” says Arjun.
While Arjun prepares to go to South Pole this November, he adds, “It is a long journey and the temperature would be -60 degrees. I will be pulling a 140 kg sledge and will be going with one guide.”