Meet Malavath Poorna, 13, youngest girl to summit Everest
Malavath Poorna, left, holds up her nation’s flag on Mount Everest, Nepal in this Sunday, May 25, 2014 handout photo. A social charity says the 13-year-old daughter of poor Indian farmers has become the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest. (AP / Andhra Pradesh Information Center)
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, June 4, 2014 11:46AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 5, 2014 3:40AM EDT
NEW DELHI -- The 13-year-old daughter of poor Indian farmers who became the youngest girl to climb Mount Everest said Wednesday that she "shed joyful tears" at the summit after a gruelling climb across difficult terrain and personal fear.
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 8,850-metre mountain on May 25 from the northern side in Tibet. There are no age restrictions in China.
"It was very difficult. Every step is a dangerous step," a smiling Poorna told reporters in New Delhi, describing steep slopes, exposed rocks, deep crevasses and extreme cold that went below minus 40 degrees Celsius.
At 3,300 metres, 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, waving her hands expressively as she spoke.
The climb was verified by the China Tibet Mountaineering Association in Lhasa, making Malavath the youngest girl to climb Everest. American Jordan Romero, from Big Bear, Calif., became the youngest boy at age 13 to reach the summit -- also from the Tibetan side -- in 2010.
Malavath said her parents, impoverished 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. Her family are dalits, once known as "untouchables," at the bottom of India's ancient caste system.
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.