“Nothing is written in stone,” says Uttarakhand born Vikram Jeet Singh Parmar. Six years ago, at 24, he had just a 5% chance of not becoming paraplegic, after a road accident left him with a hangman’s fracture, a break in a vertebra close to the neck. Doctors weren’t hopeful of the young man getting back on his feet.
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Scaling many mountains
In a new 10-minute documentary titled Pinnacle, Vikram chronicles the stories of six people on their maiden climb, as he talks of his own journey from hospital bed to standing on a mountain top.
“I have trekked and climbed various peaks in the Himalayas. I have also attempted four 6,000-metre summits and summited three of them, the highest being 6,250 metres,” says the man who still cannot ride a two wheeler and must ensure his head never goes through jerky movements.
“I had broken four ribs, and three vertebrae (C2, C6, C7) in the spinal cord. My left leg was unresponsive and the bones in my legs were shattered,” he recalls. After a four-hour operation that proved to be successful, the road to recovery was long and hard.
Vikram says after the accident and the period where he could only stare at the ceiling that he began to be thankful for all the things that he had been able to do earlier. Then, even to be able to sit on a chair seemed like a dream. However, “I wasn’t ready to give up,” he recalls.
After eight months of rehabilitation post surgery just to walk, he started thinking of doing a trek to test his body. “I took almost a year to walk properly. A friend of mine spent an hour everyday helping me get back on my feet. If I had a crutch on one hand, the other hand was held by my friend. I also consulted another friend, a doctor, on what I could do and the way I should go about doing my daily activities.” While he was determined to get back on his feet, he didn’t want to be reckless. Even now he cannot make sudden neck turns, ride a two-wheeler or even drive a car.
Vikram is from Uttarakhand, but he hadn’t gone trekking, though he had always meant to. During the recovery period, he read a lot of books on climbing. “The one thing that kept coming to my mind was a prose piece from my school text book that described Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s journey to the summit.”
Once on his feet he took another year of rehabilitation and training and did his first climb of 5,000 metres. “It was a very important point for me as that’s when I knew that I would be able to chase my dream of standing on the highest mountain of the world. Since then, I have been training my body and mind as much as I can,” adds Vikram. His goal is to scale the Seven Summits of the world.
“Last year while being under lockdown, I was able to finish the post-production of Pinnacle which was made from the footage I shot while climbing two 6,000-metre peaks with a team,” explains Vikram.
The film has won more than 35 awards at festivals worldwide, including an award for best Indian documentary at the First Khamrubu International Short Film Festival in Guwahati, Assam; part of the 2020 Tagore Film Festival 2020 official selection; and part of the 2021 Prague International Monthly Film Festival official selection.