A 13-year-old girl from a remote village of Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh, became the youngest female climber to scale the Mount Everest. Malavath Purna, a student of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Educational Society reached the top of the 8,848 mt (29,029 feet) mountain range along with class IX student of Khammam district, Sadhanapalli Anand Kumar, 16, on Sunday.
"They climbed the Everest at 6am on Sunday after a 52-day-long expedition which began in April. They are the first Dalits to reach the peak. The Andhra team hoisted the Tricolour there and had also carried photos of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar," said Dr RS Praveen Kumar, secretary of APSWERIS which runs residential schools for weaker sections in the state. "They became the youngest group and the first school team in the world to scale the tallest peak."
Braving strong, icy winds, Purna and Sadhanapalli, a class IX student, created history by scaling the last leap of 548 mt of the Everest on Sunday. While Purna's parents are agricultural labourers, Sadhanapalli's father works in a cycle shop.
They were selected from about 150 children who were initially chosen for adventure sports as part of the society's initiative to promote excellence among students. Twenty were then sent to a prestigious mountaineering institute in Darjeeling for training after which nine were sent on an expedition to the Indo-China.
Officials said Purna has been showing bravado from the first day. "She has been eager to prove to the world that she is inferior to no one," said IPS officer Kumar, who has been working among the rural youth for almost a decade. "These students from the weaker sections are mentally and physically fit for any kind of challenge. They just need opportunities."
Purna and Sadhanapalli were sent to the Everest expedition in April. They will now return to the base camp. Both put in great efforts to trek through the Death Zone where they needed to be very cautious because the oxygen they get there is less than 15 per cent.