Malaysian sets foot on world's highest peak despite delays

Mission accomplished: Raman posing on the summit of Mount Everest.
PHOTO: The Star

PETALING JAYA - For more than 10 years, Raman Nair Hachoodan dreamt of scaling the peak of Mount Everest, located 8,848m above sea level.

The 42-year-old from Shah Alam, managed to make his dream come true on May 20, when he set foot on the summit of the world's highest mountain under extremely difficult circumstances.

He started his expedition on April 5, from the Nepali town of Lukla.

"It was a great feeling to touch the roof of the earth. My hard work and training paid off. It is the most difficult thing I have done in my life," an ecstatic Raman told The Star.

Raman, who was desperate to complete his climb on his first attempt, said the most important thing for success was courage.

"You need to be confident. You have to be strong in both heart and soul. One mistake and you could slip to your death," said Raman, adding that the most difficult part of the task was the descent.

During the current "weather window" to reach the summit, 10 people, including popular Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck, died.

The Malaysian had come across Steck several times prior to his death.

Raman, who is in the automotive business, also paid a price: the extreme cold caused frostbite on one finger and toe. He is being treated for the injuries.

"But it was worth it. We risked our lives, underwent high intensity training, and spent our life savings, for Everest".

"Mountaineering is something special which you can't understand until you are in the game," said Raman, who admitted that he was drawn to the mountain after seeing others climb it.

While there were those who dissuaded him because of the dangers involved, he kept his cool and resolve.

Training for the expedition began last year, with him climbing Mount Lobuche (6,145m) in Nepal.

Back home, Raman concentrated on endurance and fitness training.

Other challenges in this year's climbing season include waiting for the fixing of ropes to the mountain.

Raman said the ropes were normally fixed before May 1, but this was done much later this year.

As a result, he was stuck at the base camp for almost two weeks.

"Once you acclimatise, you are ready to climb to the summit. Mentally, you have to be strong. Many left the campsite because of the delay. For me, I wanted to do the climb," he said.

Over 200 people have died climbing Everest ever since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to reach the summit on this day in 1953.

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