Aaryan is only seven, but has achieved more than most of us do in a lifetime
When seven-year-old Aaryan Balaji takes the stage, the audience expects no more than a cutesy tale. However, jaws drop when he starts listing his achievements. He talks matter-of-factly of his trek to Mount Everest’s Southern Base Camp (EBC), a daunting 5,364 metre climb marked by hostile terrain. Close on the heels of this successful trek on May 13 this year came another when Aaryan scaled Mount Kalapattar (5,554 m) on May 15. (Aaryan and his family were in the city recently to meet the Governor of Tamil Nadu.)
Aaryan’s love for heights can be traced to father Cdr. Srinivas Balaji and mother Riki, who enjoy mountaineering. Says Balaji, a naval officer posted to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands: “Aaryan is the youngest person in the world to have achieved these distinctions. By trekking to EBC, he bettered the record created by an eight-year-old American and his climb to Mt. Kalapattar broke the record set by a 12-year-old.”
Aaryan did the trek along with his parents and a Sherpa guide. On the way, the family met other trekkers. Says Balaji: “Tired and on the point of giving up, some of them were motivated by the fact that a seven-year-old was doing it.” After reaching EBC, Aaryan and his parents stayed overnight in the tents of Peak Promotion’s Pune Giripremi Everest 2012 team where, needless to say, the youngster grabbed all the attention.
The ambient temperature during the night was minus 22 degrees, but Aaryan was able to handle it. Says Balaji: “For three months before the climb, we vacationed in cool places such as Jammu and Himachal Pradesh to get Aaryan acclimatised to the cold. In addition, we took him on long treks around the Andamans. In a totally unrelated act, Aaryan also did a 0.8 m undersea walk.”
Besides the adventure, Aaryan is also brand ambassador for Polio Eradication (Worldwide) and has spoken about the issue in schools and villages of Nepal.
And if you thought the child’s model looks were being wasted, fear not. Aaryan has modelled for many products and also acted in the film Ananthapurathu Veedu. Talk of multi-tasking!