Mumbai, Feb 13
Kaamya Karthikeyan, a class VII student of Navy Children School (NCS) located at Colaba in South Mumbai, became the youngest girl in the world to summit Mt. Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America and outside of Asia.
The 12 year old Kaamya, daughter of Naval officer Cdr S. Karthikeyan, summitted the 6,962-metre (20841 feet) tall Argentinian mountain peak on first February (04.00 hrs), unfurling the Indian tricolour. Her expedition “Sahas” was flagged off by Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command in Mumbai in December 2019.
Mount Aconcagua, Spanish Cerro Aconcagus, mountain in western Mendoza province, west-central Argentina, , on the Chilean border. It is the highest point in the Western Hemisphere.
Aconcagua lies in the Southern Andes Mountains,although its peak is in Argentina, its western flanks build up from the coastal lowlands of Chile, just north of Santiago. Its name originated from the Quechua Ackon Cahuak (“Sentinel of Stone”). Aconcagua is of volcanic origin, but it is not itself an active volcano. It has two summits—north and south—connected by a ridge (Cresta del Guanaco) that is about 0.6 mile (1 km) long. The first attempted ascent, made in 1883, failed; the highest (north) summit was first reached in 1897 by Swiss climber Matthias Zurbriggen.
The young mountaineering prodigy bags a long list of summits to her credit and swears by her running and cycling workouts to be the wind behind her wings. As a child, Kaamya had developed a deep passion for mountaineering as she listened to her father’s stories of Himalayan-scaling expeditions. Initially, she started with basic treks in Lonavala, (Pune, Maharashtra) at the age of three, and by nine, she had completed several high-altitude Himalayan treks with her parents including (Roopkund (5020 metres) in Uttarakhand.
She began exploring the Himalayas and trekked to many beautiful locations like the Chandrashila Peak, Har-ki Dun, Kedarkantha Peak, Roopkund Lake, Brighu Lake and Sar pass. Her most notable trekking accomplishment came in May 2017, when she trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal at 17600 ft to become the Second youngest girl in the world to accomplish the feat.
In August 2017, Kaamya climbed Mt. Stok Kangri at 20187 Ft to become the youngest climber in the world to climb a peak above 20000 Ft or 6000 Meters. Last year (24 August 2019) she summitted Mt Mentok Kangri II (6262 m) (20,544 feet) peak that overlooks the Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh. Her mission is to conquer the highest peaks in every continent and ski to both the Poles. She has already bested the highest peaks in Africa, Europe and Australia.
During her earlier stay in Vizag, Kaamya had participated in three editions of Vizag Navy Marathon, twice in the Hyderabad Triathlon, Pinkathon and Vizag Bay Marathon. But after moving to Mumbai six months ago, she has found a new found love in running, thanks to the running culture in the city. She is now not only a regular participant in the 10K category of the city’s runs, but has been finishing on the podium in events like Matheran Endurathon and Lonavala Varsha Marathon.
By next year (2021), she aims to complete the exclusive ‘Explorers Grand Slam’ - which involves the competitors to climb the tallest mountains in all continents besides skiing on the North Pole and South Pole - that has been achieved by just a handful of dare-devil adventurers on Earth.
Her parents however say that the determination and focus that running imparts plays a huge role while negotiating those seemingly impossible climbs. They also note that her hard work in the outdoors has manifested into attitudinal enhancement, resulting in her drive to perform well in all spheres of life like academics and fine arts. Kaamya hopes to inspire a multitude of children to pursue their dreams and the general populace to take up an outdoor way of healthy life.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]