At the age of 15 years and seven months, Raghav Joneja from Moradabad became the youngest Indian to scale the Mount Everest when he along with his five schoolmates summited the fifth highest peak in the world.
Raghav broke the record set by Manipur's Nameirakpam Chingkheinganba, at 16 years seven months and 11 days, as recently as last month, surpassing Arjun Vajpai's feat by a week.
Incidentally, Lawrence School became the first school in the world to send a team to the highest peak.
The boys achieved the remarkable feat on May 21 when they summited Everest after a month-long gruelling expedition, backed by Hero Cycles.
The expedition comprised of seven boys with their sherpas, three fathers as a support team and another four old Sanawarians, who joined the group from here to the base camp for 21 days to give them moral support.
Col. Neeraj Rana, ex-director of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), was the mentor for the expedition which April 9 arrived at Lukla, Nepal from where the group trekked for nine days to the base camp. At the base camp they acclimatised for nearly a month and began the final ascent May 17.
While they set off in a group of seven, one of the seven, Hakikat Grewal, developed a problem in his oxygen mask and couldn’t reach the summit, having to retreat from 27,600 ft.
However, the rest completed the expedition successfully.
Ajay Sohal (16) and Prithvi Chahal (17) together climbed the summit first, next came Shubham Kaushik (16), who was followed by Fateh Brar (16) and then Joneja and Guribadat Singh (17).
"It feels really good to become the youngest Indian to summit such a tough peak. We trained for around eight months for this expedition. Climbing the peak with my schoolmates made it little easier," Raghav said of the expedition. Raghav, initially, was not part of the school's expedition team shortlisted after testing physical and mental endurance level of the consenting students.
"I requested our team leader Colonel Neeraj Rana to take me in the squad as I was really keen on taking up this challenge. I had to prove them during our acclimatisation sessions at Ladakh that I can summit the Everest. Then only I was allowed to become a part of this journey," he said.
"Safety was our major concern. There were some very dangerous passages during the climb. But our sherpas (local guides) made sure that everyone reaches the top safely," said Colonel P S Grewal who accompanied the team till the base camp.
The team now harbours ambitions to scale Seven Summits, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents, which is regarded as a mountaineering challenge.
Established in 1847, the Lawrence School is located near Kasauli, in the Shimla Hill in Himachal Pradesh.
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