SVN Suresh Babu completes the Everest Base Camp trek in four days, becoming India’s fastest solo trekker
The risk was high and the clock was ticking. After navigating his way through rocky terrain, SVN Suresh Babu began the toughest part of his trek — the snowy path — inching closer to his goal with his pack-strapped shoulder and soggy boots. About 48 hours later, the Visakhapatnam-based mountaineer created a record: he had reached Mount Everest Base Camp in four days, becoming India’s fastest solo trekker.
This trek usually takes anywhere between 15 to 20 days to complete, with acclimatisation days in between. Suresh Babu completed it by walking nearly 10 hours a day through challenging terrain, despite braving two heavy snowstorms in harsh temperatures of -20 degree Celsius and losing his way in the snow once.
“At the Everest Base Camp, you are breathing not even half the oxygen that you take in at sea level. But once I was there, I was absolutely elated. It was a rewarding experience of achieving what I had worked for,” says Suresh. Having completed many mountaineering courses from leading institutes in India, Suresh says he is used to trekking on tough terrain. Studying weather patterns and geographical conditions is critical. “During solo snow hiking, it is important to differentiate between a plate of ice and glacier ice,” he adds. There are layers of gigantic ice blocks that keep shifting and form massive crevasses in between them. Climbers have to be mindful of them.
One step at a time
However, what made the trek tough was completing it in such a short time without the acclimatisation period. “Two days down the trek, when I knew I was so close to making it at record time, I kept pushing myself,” he says.
As he climbed Suresh survived on boiled rice, lentils and protein bars. “You need at least four to five litres of water each day and in winter each litre costs about ₹1,000,” says Suresh. The Base Camp sits at an elevation of 17,600 feet, which is high enough to cause health complications. “Since I had skipped acclimatisation which is key during the trek, my brother who is a doctor was closely monitoring my health,” says Suresh.
Suresh says regular high intensity interval training at gyms and trekking in the Eastern Ghats of Visakhapatnam district over the past few years, prepared his body and mind. Apart from his fitness schedule Suresh says he wakes up at sunrise to work out on his treadmill at his home each day to prepare for these. This has been his routine since 2007.
Suresh started his quest from Visakhapatnam via Delhi to Kathmandu in Nepal. His solo marathon trek began from Lukla in Nepal on December 20 and he reached the Everest Base Camp on December 24. “December is not the best time to trek there as the weather is extremely harsh,” he says.
His trek has been recognised and authenticated by a travel company in Nepal, as well as registered with the Government of Nepal as the first Indian to achieve the feat in such a short time, touching 5,356 metres above sea level.
His walk schedule and trekking was managed by Actual Adventure of Nepal. After the trek, Suresh went on to tackle the even higher altitudes of Kala Patthar (5,550 metres above sea level), hiking the Island peak at 6,160 metres to sea level.
While reaching the Base Camp in record time did give him a high, Suresh says he wouldn’t do it again or recommend anyone to skip acclimatisation.
“It’s critical that you acclimatise while you are there. Listen to your body and pay attention to what’s going on around you, he says. “You need to be alert to the small signals your body is giving you.”