Mumbai: City mountaineer revisits near-death experience in the Everest jam

Updated: Jun 08, 2019, 07:24 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

City mountaineer revisits the exhilaration, chaos and challenge of scaling the tallest peak in a disastrous season

Parth Upadhyaya at the peak on May 23
Parth Upadhyaya at the peak on May 23

Among all the stories of deaths, 'traffic jams' and gloom on Mount Everest this climbing season, is also a story of victory. Mumbai's Parth Upadhyaya, 24, who gave up his aviation maintenance engineering job offer to accomplish his lifelong dream, reached the Everest summit on May 23.

While Upadhyaya had a successful expedition, he also witnessed horrifying deaths in the process, along with the maddening rush of people from across the world wanting to reach the summit. Despite all odds and uncertainties that stared him in the face, the Mahim resident returned home last week making his parents – businessman father Pratik, 54, mother Dipal, 50, and brother Arya, 19, proud of his feat.

Also read: 'Traffic jam' on Everest; 2 more die

Parth Upadhyaya at the peak on May 23

Upadhyaya had nine years ago also read a news report about a 16-year-old boy from Noida climbing the Everest. This inspired the then 15-year-old. A BSc (aircraft maintenance engineering) graduate, Upadhyaya is employed as a trek leader with a Mumbai-based adventure company. He began trekking in 2010 with a dream of climbing Everest someday. He completed a basic mountaineering course at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarakhand.

'It was the worst season'
Unlike every year, this year the Nepal government had issued more than three times the permits (150 to 200 per year) it usually does. This year the numbers stood at 700 to 800 permits with USD 11,000 per permit. China though kept the permits to the same 300," said Upadhyaya. Another reason for crowding on the Everest this season was due to the smaller window of good weather. "Usually, people get a window of seven to eight days of good weather for the summit, but this season the weather was very bad and we got only two days. Maximum climbers thus had to reach the summit in this period and it also witnessed maximum causality," said Upadhyaya.

Also read: Kami Rita Sherpa scales Mount Everest for record 23rd time

His view from the Everest summit
His view from the Everest summit

Mission Everest begins
Almost a year ago, Upadhyaya had decided that he will be climbing Mount Everest in 2019 and thus began preparations. To be a mountaineer, you need to stay close to the mountains, he believed and thus rented a house in Karjat's Bhivpuri village. His daily routine would include waking up at 3.30 am, practising pranayama and breathing exercises and trek towards Matheran hills, with a bag pack weighing 25 kg, containing water jugs and stones. The trek would take up four to five hours of his day and he would use the rest of the day approaching corporates and business houses for crowdfunding his expedition, as the Everest summit needed around R45 to R50 lakh, including permits and travel costs.

At the peak
The expedition began on April 8 with a team of eight mountaineers driving from Kathmandu and reaching the Everest Base Camp (17,300 feet) in Tibet on April 16. The next month was spent setting up higher camps, load ferrying and acclimatisation to higher altitudes by doing multiple rotations up and down the mountain. Upadhyaya left for the summit from Camp III at 8 pm on May 22 and made it at the top on May 23.

Upadhyaya with his Nepali sherpa Sunaru on their way to the peak
Upadhyaya with his Nepali sherpa Sunaru on their way to the peak

"When I reached the top, the sun had just risen above the horizon and in the West, I could see the shadow of Mount Everest spread across the earth till the horizon. The sun was rising below my feet and for that moment, I was at the highest place in the world. The nine-year-long journey and a dream had come true and it was the most magical moment of my life," he exclaimed.

Also read: Nepali sherpa scales Everest for 23rd time, creates world record

What next?
Upadhyaya is now keen on climbing 13 peaks which are at a height of over 26,000 feet in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet etc. "The world of outdoors has changed my life significantly. Nature has the power to develop your personality in a very dynamic way," he concluded.

Upadhyaya achieved the feat on May 23
Upadhyaya achieved the feat on May 23

15 mins
Time Upadhyaya spent at the peak

May 23
Day he reached the peak of Mt Everest

29,035 ft
Height of Mount Everest

13
No. of frozen bodies of climbers Upadhyaya encountered on his way

50
No. of people who had to be hospitalised this season

Rs 45-50 lakh
Cost of Upadhyaya's expedition

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