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'The journey is more important than the summit'

Last updated on: May 29, 2013 12:12 IST

'The journey is more important than the summit'

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Devidas Deshpande

On the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mt Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, Krushnaa Patil, one of the youngest mountaineers to scale not only Everest but most of the other major peaks in the world, tells Devidas Deshpande she now wants to get involved with the cleanup of the mountains.

'Down resting..now...waiting for the weather to clear.....ready for the final summit push'..

That was the entry on May 11, 2009, in Krushnaa Patil's blog, the last before she set her foot on the summit where every mountaineer dreams to reach at least once in his or her lifetime.

Only 19 years old at that time, she the second youngest person to scale Mount Everest, the world's highest peak. After that conquest, she has reached the top of almost every summit in every continent, but her dream to become the first Indian to complete the Seven Summits Quest in one year is still eluding her.

On the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mt Everest, Patil said she would like to work for the "cleanliness drive in the Himalayas where garbage poses a grave problem for the mountain's ecology".

On May 21, 2009, Pune's Krushnaa Patil became the fifth and the youngest Maharashtrian to scale Everest. She is also the third woman from Maharashtra to achieve the feat.

She was part of the Eco Everest Expedition 2009, led by Dawa Steven Sherpa, and Everest legend Apa Sherpa (who holds the world record for scaling Mount Everest the most number of times -- an unbelievable 21!). Krushnaa was the youngest member and the only Indian in the multi-national team consisting of Americans, Germans, Austrians, a Dane and Nepalis. She received the Rajiv Gandhi Young Achievers Award for the tremendous feat. In her own words, "If you have faith in god and also on your work, there is nothing impossible."

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Image: Krushnaa Patil during her Mt Everest expedition
Photographs: Courtesy: Krushnaa Patil

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'Looking down from the summit gives immense satisfaction'

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Krushnaa's parents had taken a bank loan to finance her expedition to the summit. However, after her feat, the bank waived off her loan and the Maharashtra government also funded her later projects. However, the same problem seems to have been persisting even later, as evident from her recent blog post, 'Nothing has changed, in 2008 I was going around like a lost child looking for sponsors, today in 2011 I was doing the same, only now the response was, "Oh!! I cant believe u find it hard to get sponsors!!" really(?)'

She wants to be described not only as the "girl who scaled the summits" but also "the girl who enjoys her travel to those summits" because the distance covered to reach a summit is more important than the summit itself.

"Carrying more than 20 kg of weight towards the summit puts tremendous pressure on your psyche. Once you start thinking that you cannot do it, it is finished. Hence, I take these expeditions more as excursions and try not to take much pressure," Krushnaa said

The mountaineer feels that the real importance of her feat sunk in only after the publicity it received. Then she ventured to scale the seven highest summits in the seven continents. This has been achieved by another Indian, Malli Mastan Babu, before her. However, no woman has achieved it. She did actually scale the Everest (Asia), Kilimanjaro (Africa, November 2009), Vinson Massif (Antarctica, December 2009), Aconcagua (South America, January 2010) followed by Kosciuszko (Australia, March 2010) and Elbrus (Europe, April 2010). However, she is yet to scale Mount McKinley (North America) as during that expedition her guide fell ill and she was turned back from base camp.

Krushnaa says reaching a summit is a very calming and satisfying experience. "The only feeling at that time is that of gratification. When you look down from the summit, it gives instant satisfaction of having achieved something," she says.

During childhood, Krushnaa would frequently go to trek on various forts and hills in and around Pune. She went on to do a course in mountaineering from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering.

After high school, she did a course on Attakalari Dance for Dance and Art in Bangalore. Her family has moved to Mumbai two years ago.

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Image: Krushnaa Patil during her Mt Everest expedition
Photographs: Courtesy: Krushnaa Patil

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