At the age of 13 years and 11 months, Poorna Malavath scaled the highest peak of Mount Everest and became the youngest girl ever to have reached the summit of Everest. It was 25th May 2014 when Poorna achieved a world record-breaking feat that she still holds. What makes Poorna Malavath’s expedition to the top of the world (literally!) even more special is she chose to defy the rigid society and did what her heart told her– to conquer mountains and prove that girls can do anything.
Poorna Malavath, an Adivasi girl, hails from a small tribal village near Nizamabad. Her parents worked as laborers in the farmhands near Nizamabad. Poorna neither had access to the resources needed for a mountaineering expedition nor the dream to be a part of one. Her parents in spite of belonging to a tribal family always encouraged in her studies and even her mountaineering adventures.
Poorna’s natural athleticism, honed by playing volleyball & kabaddi in her growing years, was spotted by her teachers who encouraged her to pursue rock-climbing and mountaineering. Decisively instrumental was the role of Dr. RS Praveen Kumar, an IPS officer, who encouraged Poorna to climb the Bhongir rock, and nurtured her talent. Shekhar Babu, an avid mountaineer, and an Arjuna (Tenzing Norgay National Adventure) Awardee, who had summited Everest in 2007 also played a key role by training Poorna and another student, S Anand Kumar, for the Everest expedition. Both youngsters went through rigorous training including rock climbing lessons in Bhongir Rocks, attending a training program at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, scaling the 17,000 feet Mt Renock in the Kanchenjunga Range and acclimatization in minus 35 degrees Celsius in mountain ranges around Ladakh.
“It took us 52 days to get to the top. But, I never had any doubts. Not even when we arrived at the base camp and heard of the death of 17 climbers because of an avalanche.” Poorna recalls that when she first saw the Everest peak, she told her trainer, “This is not so tall. We can climb it in one day.” It was a rare strength of mind that helped a 13-year-old summit the peak. “I climbed Everest because I wanted to prove girls could do anything,” Poorna, daughter of Laxmi and Devidas has been quoted as saying.
On 27th July 2017, Poorna scaled Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. Upon reaching the summit of Elbrus, she unfurled a 50 foot long Indian Tricolor while singing the Indian National Anthem.
A movie based on her life story, Poorna: Courage Has No Limit, was released in 2017 produced and directed by Rahul Bose. “Poorna is disciplined, focused, thoughtful yet fun-loving. She has determination, optimism, strength, and desire to change society by joining the civil services. Her story needed to be told to the world,” Rahul Bose has been quoted as saying.
As a tribute to her “Secretary Sir” Dr. RS Praveen Kumar, Poorna wants to become an IPS officer and affirms that will never stop being a mountaineer. Her goal is to summit the highest peaks of all the continents. The inspiring journey of Poorna is a story of dreams, motivation, self-belief, and survival.