A 17-year-old schoolboy from a New Delhi suburb, who became a
climbing sensation last year by becoming the youngest Indian to
conquer Mt Everest, created a new record Friday by becoming the
youngest in the world to ascent Mt Lhotse, the fourth highest
After an aborted attempt last week due to bad weather, Arjun
Vajpai, from Noida near the Indian capital, finally stood on the
8,516 m summit at 8.15 a.m., reported Asian Trekking, the
Kathmandu-based mountaineering agency that had been handling the
teen's climbing expeditions since last year.
Mt Lhotse, the third highest peak in the world after Mt Everest,
K2 and Kangchenjunga, had never been climbed solo by any Indian.
First summited by Swiss Ernst Reiss and Fritz Luchsinger in 1956,
three years after Mt Everest was tamed for the first time by Sir
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, Mt Lhotse has been
climbed only by the Indian Army from the subcontinent.
In 2003, a joint India-Nepal Army Expedition led by Col Ashok
Abbey from the Indian side saw the first Indian ascent of the
mountain that has claimed over 20 lives.
Arjun, who becomes the youngest climber in the world to conquer
the technically difficult Lhotse, had set a mountaineering record
last year when he scaled Mt Everest, 332m higher than Lhotse, at
the age of 16 and became the youngest Indian to accomplish the
"Jai Hind," said his exultant mother Priya Vajpai, whose image
Arjun has been carrying with him for inspiration through his
gruelling climbs through Death Zone - the region above 8,000 m
where breathing becomes difficult due to the diminishing level of
Going off to conquer Mt Lhotse after just having finished his
Class XII board exams, Arjun is now set on a career of adventure.
In winter, he is seeking to go on an expedition to the South Pole.
Last year, getting sponsors for the expensive Everest expedition -
that costs about $35,000 - proved tougher than summiting the peak.
But the recognition Mt Everest brought him made the Lhotse ascent
easier with his school, Ryan International, and two corporate
houses - the Aditya Birla Group and ShivVani - coming forward to
make the expedition possible.
Besides the Poles, Arjun has a second dream to chase. He wants to
follow in the footsteps of his hero, the legendary Italian climber
Reinhold Messner, who became the first mountaineer to climb all
the 14 peaks worldwide towering over 8,000m.
No Indian has emulated the feat, partly due to two of the peaks -
Nanga Parbat and K2 - being located in Pakistan and Indians
finding it difficult to obtain visas due to the traditional
rivalry between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
"After this I would like to attempt K2," Arjun told IANS. "It is
one of the most challenging peaks and I would love to fly the
Indian flag on its top."
(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at email@example.com)