Apr 16, 2013
First Everest, now Makalu – Indian mountaineer looks to climb them all
The Outdoor Journal
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Arjun Vajpai aims to be the first Indian to climb all 14 peaks in the world that cross 8000 meters
Mount Everest is as high as one can get- on foot- in the world. And if you have reached the summit at the age of 16, is there a bigger challenge?
India’s youngest Everesteer, 19-year-old Arjun Vajpai, firmly believes there is, and is out to further inscribe his name in mountaineering history. On April 7 this year, he set out for an expedition from India to climb Mt. Makalu at 27,765 feet (8,462 meters), the 5th highest mountain in the world as well as one of the most treacherous climbs.
This isolated, four-sided, pyramid peak is located southeast to Mount Everest on the border between Nepal and China.
At the end of the 55-day trip, Vajpai aims to be the youngest Indian in the world to reach the top. Having successfully summited three of the ‘eight-thousanders’ including Mt. Lhotse 27,890 ft (8,501 mts) in May 2011 and Mt. Manaslu 26,759 ft (8,156 mts) in October 2011, Vajpai is not on unfamiliar grounds. He is part of an international team comprising of seven climbers and nine sherpas. Currently, there are two other teams attempting the same peak.
The Outdoor Journal wishes him luck and is providing a blow-by-blow account of his expedition. Look out for it in our news section!
Fun fact: Arjun keeps his spirits up by watching the American sitcom ‘Two and a half men’, during the expedition.
Kathmandu airport: Boarding a flight to Tumlingtar, which is the starting point for my Mt. Makalu expedition. From there, it will be a long 18 day trek to Makalu Base Camp. I feel the high energy levels all around me. Our team this time is super dynamic. We have real hardcore mountaineers as well as some awesome record holders, with loads of experience under their belt. We will make it!
Bye for now- I won’t be in touch for a while but look out for my satellite phone messages. Also, please pray to the weather gods for our safe return!
I was the first to reach Dobato (12,140 ft) at a record breaking time of four hours, at 1pm. What a trek! There were loads of snow and all my trekking shoes are wet. I’m drying them at the lodge. We crossed three big passes, climbed up and skied down- with trekking shoes. I feel real nice. Ate plenty of food and now sipping ‘Thukpa’ (Nepali soup). Now, waiting for my team to arrive!
Started from Jark Kharka at 15,749 ft (4,800mts). From today, we’ve decided to travel only 500 mts daily, instead of 1000 mts, as we have enough time. This will help us acclimatise better. We’ll spend a night in between Jark Kharka & Hillary Step (Base Camp). Yesterday, Will Cross, who is Diabetic (type2), explained how he manages his mountaineering with his diet and medications. He is such an inspiration, even medical ailments can’t deter his spirit. He carries a small kit which monitors his sugar levels and and a syringe which is always placed in his body, to release the insulin. Thanks to medical science!
Woohoo!!!!! Reached Camp 1 at 1 am (Nepal time). The journey was very tiring due to winds measuring 35km/hr. The route had long ice fields and glaciers with lots of fresh snow. I have taken some footage on my helmet-cam while climbing the steep walls. also, feeling thrilled as my body responded very well too. Since rest of the team is yet to reach, I wil wait in my tent, sipping hot water. We will stay here for the night and head to Camp 2 tomorrow, provided the weather is fine. Sure to say my prayers for the others to reach Camp 1 safely. Will tell you how it goes, very soon.
Hi everybody. It’s a bright sunny day up here. We are leaving for Camp 2. Will Cross was unable to leave with us for Advanced Base Camp. The remaining are here and are all in fine health. Now for the march ahead. More from me once I reach Camp 2. Bye!
The Outdoor Journal has learnt that a Chinese mountaineer on Makalu fell during the descent, and is missing since April 23. A search operation is underway by a team of Sherpas for Mr. Xiang Yang-Liu, who “fell while climbing down from the summit” of Makalu, a Nepal Tourism ministry official said on Sunday.
The expedition comprised Mr Yang-Liu, Mr Chun Feng-Yang (also from China), Mr Azim Gheichisaz of Iran and their Nepalese Sherpa, Lapka Dendi.
A total of 29 people have died on Makalu since 1954, a year prior to the first successful ascent, with 314 climbers making the summit over the years.
Hi. I reached Camp 2 and am in the tent after one hell of a day! The wind was a big killer but I enjoyed the climb. My body is responding well, no headaches, no vomiting. In fact, I am feeling very hungry now. I have been drinking lots of water and taking rest whenever I can . But, there is no denying that the effects of altitude can be felt. Moving within the tent is also a task, so you can imagine how hard it was pitching the tent. Actually, it was extremely exhausting. Krushnaa has just reached and Domnic and Gia are yet to reach.
The route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 involved some angled climbing through beautifully sculptured glacier terrain. We had to make our way across huge crevasses, so we moved cautiously along the route. There are fixed ropes to help cross the crevasses.
We will put up at Camp 2 for the night, which is 21,883ft (6,670mts) and leave for the Advanced Base Camp tomorrow morning. Ciao till then!
Watched Family Guy, Prison Break and Grey’s Anatomy. Now hooked on to Breaking Bad (all seasons). Thanks Manek Malhotra from all of us at Advance Base Camp for the sitcoms. This is the only entertainment before dinner and, well, even after dinner. I just hope that the skies open up before the collection of sitcoms come to an end, Once the skies open up, we can start planning for summit push, or else all of you be ready to send us some new series by speed post all the way here.
From what we hear about the weather, the jet streams will reduce by the 14th/15th May. Fingers crossed.
I have reached Camp 1. We started from Advanced Base Camp at 9am and reached here at 1pm.
It’s 4am and we are leaving for Camp 3. It’s going to be a very long and tiring day today. We should take approximately 12-13 hrs to reach Camp 3. I have packed lots of water and am keeping myself warm with some hot tea. Had a good sleep yesterday.
The Outdoor Journal has been following Arjun Vajpai on his journey up Mount Makalu through heavy snowfall, around large blocks of ice, bellowing winds and hot bowls of ‘thukpa’ and we wish it could have ended in exhileration but the mountain weather swept that reality away. Stormy conditions did not allow the young Everesteer to summit this peak even though he could see it, just 300 mts from his reach.