This week, Buzz by the Bay caught up with 17-year-old Mithil Dedhia, the youngest Mumbaikar to scale Mount Everest. He successfully completed his summit on May 17. This season itself, 17 climbers perished on the mountain. At minus 40 degrees Celsius along with high winds, weather conditions were unusually frigid for May. The number of climbers attempting to climb the tallest peak has also grown. On May 17, there were 200 people making the summit push. Anushka Jagtiani spoke to Dedhia about his training, inspiration and moments of doubt during the daunting expedition. Excerpts from the interview:
What made you to attempt scaling the Mount Everest?
When I went to the Everest base camp last year, I saw the peak. I started imagining what it must be like to climb it and see the whole view. I was with my uncle who is a professional mountaineer and has already climbed Mount Everest. He is the first Indian to climb Everest and Lhotse in six days. He received the Tenzing Norgay award from the President. He asked me, “Why don't you try it. You need training, you have to work hard but try it.”
Tell us about your training duration and what was it like?
I trained for around six to eight months. Actually, you need a year-long training, but I had to study for my board exams. I used to wake up and study, then go running with the endurance mask. After breakfast, I used to do staircase climbing. In the evening, I used to do calisthenics for three hours even when my exams were on.
I suppose you have age on your side so you didn't have to do 12 months of training?
My endurance was basically good because I represented India in London for football. I run marathons with my father. I am an athlete and volleyball player.
Attempting Mount Everest has become more common, but people don't realise how deadly an expedition it is. Especially when you are in that death zone above 8,000mt where the oxygen in the air is so low that it's not enough for a human to survive. What was your experience?
I was exhausted at camp 3 which is 7,000mt, but when I reached camp 4 at 8,000mt at around 3pm, I was so energetic. I was not even in my tent, I was roaming around with my bag. I then took a rest for six hours and again started my summit push.
How long did it take to finish the summit push?
I started at 8.30pm and completed the summit at 9am – a duration of 12.5 hours. A lot of things happened on the way. My sherpa got sick with a stomach infection at 8,100 metres, so he called another sherpa. Hence, I had to stay without movement for an hour due to which my toe started freezing. There were 200 people and everyone went ahead. Another sherpa Dorjee was really good. We left behind nearly half the crowd. We reached the balcony and changed our oxygen. When we reached the balcony, my oxygen wasn't working properly and I panicked. Then I told Dorjee Dai that I don't want to go, let's turn back. And, he told me you will regret it!