Kartik Khandelwal, a 20 year old mountaineer from Udaipur scaled Friendship Peak, a height of 17,348ft, which by no means is a routine scalable height. It requires passion and perseverance, no matter how fit you are.
Kartik, a former student of BN University, Udaipur, is a mountaineer by passion and runs his own hiking company in Udaipur, by the name of “Ek Jagah”. Karthik is a passionate mountaineer and a full time athlete, fit by all standards.
However, he scaled the +17,000ft Friendship Peak in the Pir Panjal range in Himachal Pradesh – a trekkers dream destination in India. The mountain looms high at 17,348 ft or 5,289 mtr at summit. When Kartik spoke to UdaipurTimes about this achievement, he was modest. He said - ""i know i am not the first one to do such summits from Udaipur", to which we said, "In the trekking world, there is nothing like 'first person' to scale mountains...because for each one who achieves, it is the first time - and that matters".
As per Kartik, in spite of his fitness, he was exposed to AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness, which is a common occurrence when oxygen levels are low – and once you are above 8,000ft (2,400 meters), chances are, it might set in, depending upon the physical distress on acclimatizing to lower oxygen pressure.
Friendship Peak is near Manali and Kartik set off for his first summit attempt on 19 October, leaving the advanced base camp at 2AM, with a challenging temperature of -5°C. After 3 hours of climbing, AMS began to set in for Karthik and once he got to near freezing, he wisely decided to climb down back to base camp. After a 2 day rest, and getting his breath back, he decided on another attempt. He left for summit at 2AM on 21 October and reached summit at 945am. The entire route to summit and back was a grueling 14 hours.
This climb was in Alpine style, meaning that there was no porter or loading help. Further, Karthik climbed the Friendship Peak from the Shoulder end, which is more difficult to scale.