Dubai: 9-Year-Old Aims to Conquer Highest Peak in South America After Summiting Europe’s Tallest Mountain

For nine-year-old Ayaan Mendon, it’s a combination of physical accomplishment, emotional growth, a connection to nature, and a touch of imagination that makes him feel like a superhero after every mountain he summits.

The young adventurer last month accomplished a remarkable feat by scaling Russia’s Mount Elbrus, which is Europe’s highest peak.

Ayaan’s passion for mountain climbing began at a very young age after his father casually decided to go to Jebel Jais in Ras-al-Khaimah with a friend.

That started his family’s mountaineering journey with Ayaan climbing Mount Kilimanjaro last August, braving 5,895 metres only one month after his 8th birthday.

This year in April, he climbed Mount Kosciuszko in Australia and conquered Russia’s Mount Elbrus in June, just a few weeks before he turned 9 years old.

My mountaineering experiences have provided me with a unique opportunity to embrace my inner courage and have fostered a sense of wonder that closely resembles the feelings associated with some of my favourite fictional heroe,” said the Grade 3 student at the North London Collegiate School, Dubai.

“I feel I’ve pushed myself to the next level by going beyond and it gives me a little bit of more energy to do things the next time,” he added.

Climbing Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, was no small feat, but his determination and love for challenges pushed him to succeed.

Now, he’s aiming even higher with his sights set on Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America, at the end of the year.

“With an unyielding spirit, he’s mentally and physically preparing himself to face this incredible endeavour,” said Ayaan’s mother, Vani Mendon.

“He climbed Mentok Kangri 2 in Ladakh, at the end of July. Mentok Kangri 2 is a 6,250 meters peak in Ladakh, India. It is a very harsh terrain with almost no vegetation and very low oxygen levels. It is very hard for the majority of people to properly acclimatize due to the geographical nature of the region,” said Vani.

“We chose this mountain as a training base for our upcoming expedition to Mt. Aconcagua (6961 meters) which is based in Argentina. The expedition started at Leh from a height of 3,500 meters slowly acclimating and travelling to Korzok village to a height of 4,500 meters.”

From the village, Ayaan climbed to the base camp to a height of 5,500 meters with the weather at this height changing quickly. “We had to face some very strong winds not suitable for the summit push. The team waited longer than planned on base camp. While waiting, Ayaan experienced low blood oxygen levels and the expedition leader decided to descend for the safety of Ayaan and us,” Vani added.

Meanwhile, the young mountaineer continues with his endurance training which is crucial for such summits.

Vani said, “Prioritising safety is important. Ayaan has been training very hard. During every workout he bears in mind that he is training for another mountain. He does high-endurance training with a personal trainer. He carries a 20kg vest on his body and he runs with the weights on. He is also in a swimming squad.”

Despite previous instances of children successfully climbing the mountain, recent rule changes have made the permit process challenging.

Ayaan’s mother noted, “We are fighting for the permits. Last year, his permission was declined a week before the climb. We’ve been trying to get a permit for him since last then. Children have climbed this mountain but there have been some new rules of late. It’s been difficult.”

“We have done ECGs and echocardiogram for Ayaan. There are 28 other blood tests which have all been done and now things look positive. He is also training hard for this climb,” she added.


Khaleej Times
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