Twelve-year-old Kaamya Karthikeyan became the youngest girl in the world to summit Mt Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America. The class seven student of Navy Children School, Mumbai summited the 6962 metres mountain on February 1 and unfurled the Indian flag atop the peak.
Kaamya is the daughter of Indian Navy Commander S Karthikeyan, under whose tutelage she learnt the basic skills of mountaineering. She has conquered several peaks including scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895 metres) the highest peak in Africa, Mt; Elbrus (5,642 metres), the highest mountain in Europe and then Australia’s tallest mountain Mt. Kosciuszko (2,228 metres). And two other peaks with heights of over 6000 meters above sea level.
She developed a passion for mountaineering through her father's stories of Himalayan-scaling expeditions. She began at an early age with basic treks in Lonavala, (Pune) at the age of three, and by nine, she had completed several high-altitude Himalayan treks with her parents including Roopkund (5,020 metres) in Uttarakhand.
A year later, she reached Everest Base Camp in Nepal (5,346 metres) and then became the youngest mountaineer to conquer Mt. Stok Kangri (6,153 metres) in Ladakh. In August 2019, under extreme cold conditions, she summited Mt Mentok Kangri II, a 6,262 metres peak that overlooks the Tso Moriri lake in Ladakh.
According to Navy officials, she achieved the feat following years of physical and mental preparation. They added that she had to overcome many administrative hurdles and extreme climbing conditions to achieve this rare feat. She regularly participated in adventure sports too, and follows a strict regimen that includes daily distance cycling, running, and half-day treks on weekends to improve stamina and endurance power.
In 2021, she plans to complete in the exclusive 'Explorers Grand Slam' - where competitors climb the tallest mountains in all continents besides skiing on the North and South Poles.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)
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