16-year-old mountaineering star Kaamya Karthikeyan triumphs Mt Everest

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Mumbai : Kaamya Karthikeyan, a 16-year-old mountaineering prodigy, successfully climbed the summit of Mt. Everest on May 20, 2024. Kaamya was supported by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) in this expedition and was accompanied by her father, Commander S Karthikeyan, of the Indian Navy, who also summited the earth’s highest mountain above sea level.

Kaamya had trained under the expert guidance of TSAF instructors. She was also part of the Mt Kang Yatse 1 expedition organised by TSAF in Leh-Ladakh in August 2023. TSAF has to date supported 14 individuals to summit Mt Everest.

Chanakya Chaudhary, Chairman, Tata Steel Adventure Foundation, and Vice President, Corporate Services, Tata Steel, said: “We are incredibly proud of Kaamya Karthikeyan’s extraordinary achievement of summiting Mt. Everest at such a young age. Her journey is a testament to the spirit of perseverance, meticulous preparation, and unwavering determination. Kaamya’s success reflects the core values of TSAF, and we are honoured to support her in this historic endeavour. She is an inspiration to young adventurers everywhere, proving that with dedication and the right support, even the most ambitious dreams can be realised.”

Kaamya, along with her team, reached Kathmandu on April 6. After extensive acclimatisation and several days of strategic planningto summit at the most suitable weather conditions, her final summit climb began onMay 16 from the Everest Base Camp. After a rest day at Camp 2 on May 17, they progressed to Camp 3 by 9:30 am on May 18 and further to Camp 4 on May 19 under tough weather conditions. The final push to the summit began in the early morning of May 20, 2024. The team, led by an experienced Sherpa, made a strategic decision to start their climb at 4 am, considering weather conditions, especially wind speed. The team’s exceptional fitness allowed them to start later than the usual 10 pm departure the previous night, providing a safer and more controlled ascent. Kaamya, along with her guide, Lakhpa Nuru Sherpa was the first of the team to successfully ascend to the summit at 12:45 pm Nepalese Standard Time (12:30 pm IST).

Having completed all acclimatisation rotations till 6850 metresearly in the expeditionincluding a summit of Mount Lobuche East (6113 metres) on April 18, 2024, Kaamya and her father had returned to base camp for rest and preparation, awaiting a favourable weather window for their final ascent.

There are 4 camps after the base camp enroute to the summit—Camp 1 at 6000 metresafter crossing the treacherous Khumbu Icefall; Camp 2 at 6500 metres; Camp 3 at 7050 metres and Camp 4 (South Col) at an altitude of 7950 metres, where climbers have to wait before favourable weather provides a window for the final summit push.

Kaamya Karthikeyan is not new to mountaineering challenges. At just 16, she hasnow scaled the highest peaks on five continents, demonstrating exceptional skill and dedication. Her Himalayan journey started at seven with a high-altitude trek to Chandrashila Peak (12,000 ft) in 2015. By 2016, she tackled tougher treks like Har-ki Dun (13,500 ft), Kedarkantha Peak (13,500 ft), and Roopkund Lake (16,400 ft). In May 2017, she trekked to Everest Base Camp (17,600 ft) in Nepal, becoming the second youngest girl to achieve this. In May 2019, she trekked to Brighu Lake (14,100 ft) and crossed the Sar Pass (13,850 ft) in Himachal Pradesh. Kaamya regularly treks in the Sahyadris, inspiring many young children to join her.

Recognising her strength and adaptability, Kaamya was exposed to extremely high altitudes at a young age. At nine, she climbed Mt. Stok Kangri (20,187 ft), becoming the youngest girl to summit a peak above 20,000 ft. In August 2019, she summited Mt. Mentok Kangri II (20,544 ft) in Ladakh. Recently, she summited the highly technical Mt. Kang Yatse 1 (21,000 ft) with TSAF.

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