The 13-year-old daughter of poor Indian farmers who became the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, said last week that she “shed joyful tears” at the summit after overcoming personal fear to complete a grueling climb across difficult terrain.
Nepal requires climbers to be at least 16 years old to scale its peaks, but Malavath Poorna said she and a team of Nepalese guides climbed the 29,035-foot mountain on May 25 from the northern side in Tibet, which is under Chinese control. There are no age restrictions in China.
“It was very difficult. Every step is a dangerous step,” a smiling Malavath told reporters in New Delhi, India, describing steep slopes, exposed rocks, deep crevasses and extreme cold of 40 degrees below zero.
At 10,830 feet, she said, she saw “six dead bodies. I was shocked. Oh, my God, I got some fear.”
But she remembered her training and regained her confidence.
“When I reached the top of Everest, very good experience. I feel great and proud, and I shed joyful tears” as she looked around and saw “mighty mountains and morning sunlight,” she said in English, waving her hands expressively as she spoke.
The climb was verified by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association, making Malavath the youngest girl to climb Everest. American Jordan Romero, from Big Bear, California, became the youngest boy at age 13 to reach the summit — also from the Tibetan side — in 2010.
Malavath said her parents, poor farmers from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, encouraged her during eight months of training despite the fact that she had never before been on a mountain.
The expedition was sponsored by the Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Educational Institution Society as part of its program to encourage and help underprivileged students in India.