NEW DELHI: A 13-year-old poor Indian schoolgirl has become the youngest female to summit Mount Everest, following a difficult and dangerous climb from China’s Tibetan side, her expedition organiser said yesterday.
Malavath Poorna, the daughter of a tribal farm labourer, reached the top of the world’s highest peak on Sunday after climbing from the Tibetan side of the mountain, said Mohammed Ansari, technical coordinator for her team.
Poorna and 16-year-old friend S Anand Kumar, a member of India’s lowest Dalit caste previously known as “untouchables”, climbed the mountain with ten Nepalese guides, before hoisting the Indian flag there, he said.
“Poorna and Kumar ascended Everest from... the Tibetan side early Sunday morning. They have started their descent and will reach north basecamp in Tibet on Tuesday,” Ansari said from India.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said three foreigners “successfully climbed onto the top of the world” over the weekend, citing Zhang Mingxing, head of Tibet’s alpinism administration centre.
Zhang did not confirm whether the Indian teenagers were among the three foreigners and Nepalese officials had no details of the climb.
The climb was made possible after the teenage girl, whose father from an indigenous tribe earns just Rs35,000 ($600) a year, was sponsored by a government-run social welfare organisation in southern India.
“She was strong and determined to climb Everest. We are very proud,” Ansari said. “She wanted to take the risk. She said that her community will gain recognition if they succeed,” he said.
The pair also won applause from India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi.