Hyderabad: Hyderabad’s Virat Chandra Telukunta, a seven-year-old boy, became one of the youngest people to summit Kilimanjaro, on March 6. After rigorous training for 75 days in the city, Virat reached the peak of the African mountain along with his coach Bharath Thammineni.
Virat’s interest in mountaineering peaked after he had a video call with his cousins who were in the mountains at that time. Shares Virat: “My cousins, who are 16 and 13 years old, video-called us from Rudugaira Mountains in Uttarakhand. I was fascinated with the mountains and told my parents that I too wanted to go.”
While Virat knew that he was ready for the mountains, his parents weren’t so convinced. “We thought it’s just a young boy trying to grab attention,” shares Madhu, Virat’s mother, adding, “But when he insisted for about a week, we decided to talk to Bharath Thammineni, who coached Virat’s cousins for the mountains.”
It was only after a month-long training that Bharath, who is the founder of Boots and Crampons, an adventure and mountaineering company, decided to take Virat to Kilimanjaro. “When Virat came to me, he was very excited. But I have seen people backing away from the project after we take them through a rigorous training schedule. So, I decided to train Virat for a month and check his potential,” Bharath said.
But Virat didn’t back out. Every day, the seven-year-old was on time for his training, which included running six km every day, climbing hilltops and doing yoga. He also participated in a 5K marathon before leaving for the Dar-es-Salaam on February 28.
Talking about his experience, Virat, a Class II student at Gitanjali Devshala, Secunderabad, says: “On March 5, I had to bid adieu to my parents at Horombo Huts, and Bharath sir and I left for Kibu at 9 am. It was an elevation of 4,720 metres. This journey was very challenging. We faced a very harsh climate. After reaching there, we had early dinner and slept. We started at 3.40 am the next morning for the Uhuru peak, which is the highest point in Africa.”
Stepping out in heavy fog and breeze, Virat shares he was a bit scared. “The visibility was very less. I was frightened because it was still dark and whistling winds with snow downpour. With support from our guides, we could make it to the summit. It took almost eight hours to reach the summit. I am happy to accomplish the mission I thought of.”
Virat, who is accompanied by his parents and coach, will return home on March 15.
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