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Nine-year-old S'pore girl treks to Everest base camp

Now after her eight-day adventure, Minnal is thinking of conquering Everest in future. She said: 'I want to be the youngest Singaporean to scale Everest one day.' (ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE)

Publication Date : 09-07-2012


Like many other primary school pupils, nine-year-old Minnal K. Dhayalan went abroad with her parents during the recent school holidays.

But she neither shopped at a mall nor ate at a fancy restaurant. Instead, she climbed a mountain.

For eight days in May, Minnal trekked nearly 100km to reach the 5,364m-high Everest base camp in Nepal.

"I thought, this was going to be exciting," she said of her unique adventure.

It is unclear if the Primary 4 pupil is the youngest Singaporean to reach the base camp, as no such records are kept.

But Yip Seck Hong, 64, president of the Singapore Mountaineering Federation, believes she is one of the youngest climbers he has heard of.

"It is unusual... Not many young people do this," he said.

Mountaineer David Lim, 48, who led the Singapore Everest expedition in 1998, agreed.

"It's a feat to trek to base camp for any nine-year-old," he said.

Everest's south base camp in Nepal is a campsite where climbers stay to acclimatise to the altitude. The minimum age to attempt the Everest climb in Nepal is 16 years old.

It all began last year when Minnal's mother, IT software consultant Kiruthika Chidambaram, 40, decided she might want to climb the Himalayas.

An avid trekker, she asked her 43-year-old husband Dhayalan Ramanathan and Minnal if they were up for the challenge. As a family, the trio climbed Malaysia's Mount Panti and Mount Ophir last year.

Father and daughter agreed, and on May 20, the family flew to Lukla, Nepal, to begin their climb.

Most of the next eight days were spent hiking 10km to 15km from 8am to 6pm each day, with the help of three local guides and two porters, said Minnal from Raffles Girls' Primary School.

Luckily, she added, nobody fell ill with altitude sickness.

Minnal said she is thinking of conquering Everest in future.

With a smile, she said: "I want to be the youngest Singaporean to scale Everest one day."


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