Ashish Mane became the second youngest Indian to reach the summit of Mt. Lhotse

Death is a possibility at every step. The mountain challenges you relentlessly and the winds can send you hurtling down from a frightening height of 8000 metres. Life becomes the most precious possession. For Ashish Mane, a 22-year-old from Pune, it was a “thrilling” experience no doubt but also an encounter with “reality.”; the reality that the difference between life and death, hope and despair, success and loss, victory and defeat hangs by a slender thread.

Mane was the face of this expedition which included Ganesh More, Anand Mali and Bhushan Harshe, all reaching the peak of the Everest. With Ajit Tate managing the base camp, Mane emerged the second youngest Indian to reach the summit of Mt. Lhotse on May 16.

Hailing from Satara, it was Mane’s dream to do something “exceptional.” He was an avid footballer but the passion to stand out in a crowd paved the way for Mane to take up mountaineering. “Scaling Mt. Lhotse (8516 metres) is considered one of the toughest tasks in the world of mountaineering. “Ice and rock, an almost 90 degree wall, make scaling this peak a huge challenge. The winds make it tougher. I must confess I had my moments of fear but the passion to make it to the top kept me going.”

With a weight of 10 kg on his back, Mane negotiated his climb with a determination that had its roots in support from his family. “Initially they discouraged and vehemently opposed my love for climbing. But they encouraged me when they realised that climbing was an essential part of my life. They feel proud of my achievements.” Mane scaled Everest (8848 metres) at 21 and Mt. Lhotse at 22. What next? “Mt. Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world (8481 metres).” Mane sounds confident.