His love for mountains happened when he was just 10. “I climbed a small hill in the Sahyadri range near Pune with my grandfather. When I reached the top of that small hill and saw the sun setting, I thought if the world looked so beautiful from here, how beautiful it would look from the Top of the World! That’s how I started to live and work hard towards my dream of reaching the roof of this world, Mt. Everest.”
Top of the world
The adventurous Arjun Vajpai was the youngest Indian to scale Mt. Everest. He was 16. His experience was obviously memorable. “The feeling was more than amazing! I was finally standing on top of the world (on May 22, 2012). There were a lot of challenges which came in my way; had to cross crevasses, stare into the face of death, climb steep slopes which seemed to never end! But when I stood up there, the only thought which came to my mind was ‘It’s all worth it!’.”
The venture was scary too. “I do feel scared at times. But then what I do generally to overcome my fears is that I start talking to myself and start motivating myself to take the next step and the step after that. There is nobody to motivate you, you are all by yourself. It’s just you and the mountain -- face to face. But what I’ve learnt through all these expeditions is that we can always take one more step in life. In my case I do that quite literally on the mountains and people can do the same in their everyday life.”
Arjun speaks like a veteran when sharing his experience of his conquests. “In the great words by Sir Edmund Hillary ‘It’s not the mountain which we conquer, but ourselves.’ We mountaineers can never conquer a mountain, we only climb it. One of the most important lessons which I’ve learnt is to be humble and respectful to nature as we can never fight against it. Mountaineering has also taught me that life is too short and you've got to live it to the fullest. If you are not living on the edge, you are taking way too much of space in this world. You have to dream big and dare to chase it!”
His ambition to go on comes from his spirit to achieve more and more. “The sheer feeling of being on top of a mountain makes me go back to them again and again. It feels as if you are the emperor of this whole world, nothing at your eye level.”
Arjun, 19, acknowledges the support from his family.
“My parents have played the most important role through all my journeys. Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have achieved today.”
What about his next adventure? “Mt. Makalu is the mountain I am going to summit this month. It is the fifth highest mountain peak in the world at 8,481 metres and located 19 km south-east of Mt. Everest, on the border of between Nepal and China.” He carries the wishes of the nation.