Sanawar (Himachal Pradesh), April 3 (IANS) They are young, but the sky is their limit. Seven boys of Lawrence School, Sanawar, in the picturesque Kasauli hills, are all set to scale Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world (29,028 feet).
Hakikat Singh, Guribadat Singh, Prithvi Singh, Ajay Sohal, Shubham, Fateh Singh and Raghav Juneja - all, except the last, are 16 or 17 years old.
"They have been selected after seven months of tough mental and rigorous physical training, which took them both to the old deserts of the Himalayas and the hot deserts of Rajasthan," headmaster Praveen Vashisht told IANS here Wednesday.
He said that the parents of the boys motivated them to undertake the arduous journey.
"We all are excited. The gruelling training helped us strengthen concentration while traversing through snow-marooned steep gradients," said Fateh Singh.
Another climber, Hakikat Singh, said the group had been trained to climb steep rock cliffs and narrow gorges that pose challenges even to seasoned climbers.
Trainer of the group, Col (retd) Neeraj Rana, former head of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, said the boys, most of them coming from families with a parent in the defence forces, have also been trained to fight against all odds, whether hostile weather or steep gradients.
He said all boys, except Raghav, qualify the age condition.
"He is just four months short of 16 years, the minimum age to climb Mount Everest. But we are sorting out the issue with the Nepalese government in this regard," he added.
"During the training, I managed to scale two major peaks in the Kanchenjunga area -- B.C. Roy peak and Frey peak. Their altitudes range from 18,000 to 21,000 feet. I believe I will be comfortable at Mount Everest too," Raghav said.
If permitted the climb, and if he succeeds, Raghav would be the youngest Indian to scale Mount Everest.
School officials said the boys underwent basic and advanced courses in the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling.
As part of the training regimen, the boys scaled two major peaks in the Kanchenjunga area. They were given high-altitude training in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, where temperatures normally hover 25 degrees Celsius below freezing point.
The boys were part of a cycling expedition in the Thar desert, where they pedalled more than 1,000 km in nine days.
That expedition was followed by high altitude training at over 6,000 m in temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Celsius, in Ladakh.
The cost of the expedition is Rs.17.20 lakh per head, but if the attempt is successful, it will be the first school team in the world to capture the mountain, said the organisers.
The boys will reach Lulka April 10, from where they will undertake a nine-day trek to the base camp.
After acclimatisation, they will begin the trek to Mount Everest.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)