We are all born with a divine fire in us. Our efforts should be to give wings to that fire and fill the world with glow of its goodness - A.P.J Abdul Kalam
The flickering figurative fire is the passion one feels for something that inspires to go to lengths and achieve greatness. And more often than not, the route isn't an easy one. Not only metaphorically but practically too. For instance, the passion for mountaineering, do you think it's easy scaling such towering giants? Definitely not! But what if we tell you that at the tender age of 12 (that's right), there's someone who dares to follow her mountaineering passion into the colossal laps of the Himalayas.
Meet Pihu Malhotra, a young girl from Pune whose obstacles are nothing like a regular pre-teen. When most of the kids in her class are struggling with daily homework and piano lessons, Pihu Malhotra is busy training for climbing the highest Himalayan peak, Mt Everest. Yes, unlike most kids, Pihu's kick doesn't come from sugar candies and cola drinks but from hiking and climbing in the Himalayas.
As told, Pihu got inspired to do something when she read about Arunima Sinha, the first woman amputee to climb the Mount Everest. and that’s when she confessed to her parents her passion for mountain climbing. She started with 1-day treks around Maharashtra and is gradually training herself for her ultimate goal - the Mount Everest. She, recently, completed her first high altitude trek to Roopkund and is gearing up for Everest Base Camp.
If this inspires you and piques your curiosity as to what this young kid is up to, then get to know Pihu Malhotra up close here. Rachana Jain at Livingit connected with Pihu Malhotra for the #iamlivingit series and were awestruck with her journey to mountains.
Livingit: Congratulations, Pihu, for completing your first high altitude trek. Could you share more about yourself?
Pihu: Hello, my name is Pihu Malhotra. I am 12 years old and in Class 7. I study in Wisdom World School, Pune and have a passion for mountaineering. I want to do something for our country, and want to become an airforce pilot.
Livingit: What inspired you to start trekking at such a young age?
Pihu: I found my inspiration in Arunima Sinha, the first handicap to summit Mt Everest. Sometime back I got my hands on her book “Born Again on Mountain” and as I read through, each flipped page strongly influenced me. As I read about her hurdles and the amazing sights she was rewarded with afterward inspired my soul greatly. It led me to take up trekking. I equally owe my determination and motivation to Yuvraj Singh who fought cancer to emerged triumphant.
Livingit: Tell us about your 1st trekking experience? Please share with us the summits that you have covered.
Pihu: I started my trekking journey back in 2014. I had gone on a road trip to Zanskar Valley with a group of 43 members in which I was the youngest. After that one-of-a-kind Himalayan experience, I also visited the world’s highest observatory and world’s highest motorable road- Khardungla peak. My first time in the mountains was ultimate and learned a lot from that trip.
From that time onwards, there was no looking back. Recently, on September 18, 2017, Pihu completed Roopkund (16,500ft) and Junargali(17,850FT) treks .
Livingit: Do you trek with your family members or trek with a group?
Pihu: I guess the zeal for trekking runs in my family. My dad loves to go hiking and usually I accompany him, sometimes it's the other way around too. But apart from that, I find trek groups online and sign up for trips. An adult from the family goes with me on these trips.
Livingit: As a young kid, what are the challenges you face while trekking?
Pihu: In terms of physical fitness, I am well trained. I am actually a basketball player and senior belt in Karate. So, when it comes to having the stamina, I have a good amount of it for mountain climbing. And because I am well aware of the mountain conditions, I am also mentally prepared to take on what the summit has to offer. It's only the frigid cold weather that gets in the way but then you cannot do much about it. On another note, catching up on the missed classes is also a bit of a challenge.
Livingit: Share your fitness plan for the trek. How many months before the trek, do you start your training?
Pihu: For the Roopkund trek, I started training 3 months before the trek. I joined a gym where I would do treadmill and squats. Along with that I go for Karate 6 days a week and play basketball for Under 14 team at my school which was the plus point while trekking.
The training regime included 5 km in 35 minutes 3 times a week, 100 squats and 100 floors in 40 min. For these workouts, I use the Nike+ Run Club app. I was self-training all by myself.
If that was training, then Pihu also has to keep a check on her diet. "I have to include a good amount of protein and eggs in my diet. Junk food, aerated drinks are a big no," says the 12-year old.
And in April 2018, Pihu is planning for Everest Base Camp - (EBC) which needs even harder training. "I am quite certain that I will do it. I am ready for Everest climbing (physically) and have made my mind up!!"
Livingit: Can you tell us what does trekking teach you?
Pihu: Trekking has taught me a thing or two about being independent. Up in the mountains, you never know what awful situation lurks. If you cannot be self-supporting then you might as well do not plan the trip in the first place. Other key takeaways from a trekking expedition are the importance of teamwork, team motivation, how to adjust in small tents and much more. All of these has helped to shape my perspective on life and it's a continuous effort to be a better, healthier person.
Livingit: Which trek has given you a scary experience?
Pihu: Roop Kund! We had a scary wasp incident with my two other roommates—Neha di and Swapna di. There were wasps around my head and it freaked me out because it is said that a wasp’s bite is very painful and lasts for 48 hours!!. So, I was really afraid that it might bite me! Aside from that, I did face an extreme case of fatigue during the trek. We had to wear two layers of liners (to protect ourselves from hypothermia) and then get into the sleeping bag which would be really exhausting and annoying after the day's trek.
Livingit: As Everest Base Camp (EBC) is your next trek destination, how are you prepping up for the trek?
Pihu: As of now I am reading up on EBC journals and fitness tips but from January 2018, I will begin my workout and backpacking. Since it is a tougher summit, my workout will be rigorous. I will have to run 5 km in 25 minutes and complete 150 squats every day along with the basic training schedule that I follow!
Livingit: Also, how many days is the expedition, your route plan and what's your thoughts about it?
Pihu: The Everest Base Camp trek is 19 days trek and I have thought of taking the long route via Gokyo river and have further plans of summiting Mt Everest too! However, I can climb Mt. Everest only when if I am 16. So, I am waiting for turning 16, I will train myself at NIM- Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. After completing the training, I can climb alone and I shall!
Livingit: Which other destinations are on your bucket list?
Pihu: After the EBC foray is taken care of, my next destinations are Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa and Mt Mckinley in Alaska. While in India, I want to complete Stok Kangri, Deoriatal Chandrashila and the list will keep going on…….
And we hope too. The phrase - age is just a number - suitably befits Pihu Malhotra's inspiring journey. That once you set your heart on doing something, no force on earth can stop you. And following your passion is a primitive human instinct. So, it doesn't matter if you are 15 or 50, you can start pursuing your dreams anytime. In fact, this is the right time. Go do what you love and motivate yourself to give life to your beautiful dreams.
Because at Livingit we believe Stop Existing, Start Livingit!
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