Published: 30th October 2018
Halfway up Mt Fuji, these Indian school students were told the weather was too rough. What they did next will stun you
Under the guidance of Captain Mohit Tomar, students of Grades 8, 9 and 10 from Indus International Schools in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune undertook this mountaineering expedition
Halfway through the climb, we were told that due to bad weather we will not be allowed to trek any further — Imagine you're halfway up one of the highest mountains in the world and someone gives you that kind of bad news. What do you do? "Our expedition leader convinced the sherpas to let us go. All of us had come together to say that we could do it braving the extreme weather," says Vighnesh Sundar Kannan, a Grade 10 student of Indus International School in Hyderabad.
In what seemed like a test of mental and physical fitness, a group of nine students of Indus International Schools recently climbed Mt Fuji (3,776 m), the highest peak in Japan. Mt Fuji is said to be the seventh largest peak in the world and is currently an active volcano (three separate volcanos in one). There is a very small window to trek Mt Fuji; it starts at the beginning of July and lasts until the last week of August.
Under the guidance of Captain Mohit Tomar (Leadership Trainer, Indus School of Leadership), Grades 8, 9 and 10 students from Indus International Schools in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune undertook this mountaineering expedition as part of their leadership training program, ‘Peak to Lead’ — that is meant to train young minds to face all life’s challenges with grit and determination and overcome them despite hurdles. Out of the team of nine students, the following five students summited the peak of Mt Fuji:
Ishan Santosh Subhedar (Grade 9, Indus International School Pune)
Vighnesh Sundar Kannan (Grade 10, Indus International School Hyderabad)
Arvind Sundar Kannan (Grade 8, Indus International School Hyderabad)
Umang Singhania (Grade 9, Indus International School Hyderabad)
Cesar Afonso Huret (Grade 8, Indus International School Bangalore)
Climbing any mountain is tough. Fuji would have been especially hard on these youngsters. "It was extremely cold at the top, however, I felt that it was an amazing feat to be on top of a mountain at this age. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was determined to reach the summit. We trained for around three weeks and the training consisted mainly of running and cardio. I ran 20 rounds every morning, 10 every evening. We had to follow a strict but simple diet — a bowl of cereal in the morning, two chapattis and gravy for lunch and dinner in order to keep fit," explains Arvind Sundar Kannan, a Grade 8 student, who summited the peak with his brother Vighnesh.
While scaling peaks of this magnitude are often reserved for professional mountaineers, these young students managed it because of the constant guidance and endurance training, “I was determined to reach the top of Mt Fuji, come what may. At the moments of doubt, our teachers and guides kept our spirits high, making the climb seem merely like a ‘matter of effort and discipline’. This is a dream come true, indeed. I believe that this is the best way to learn about setting and achieving challenging goals and learn the value of human life. I am grateful for being alive,” said Ishan Santosh Subhedar, a Grade 9 student from Indus International School Pune.
The two-time Everester Colonel Neeraj Rana helped to organise the overall expedition. Reflecting on the whole experience. "Mountaineering is a spiritual sport that teaches the best leadership lessons and demands conquering the inner self. During the climb, the students faced extreme conditions — the weather was rough, unpredictable and biting cold — but they overcame all the adversities and focused on their goal, eventually reaching the mountain peak. We believe that leadership is about learning to lead yourself first and then others, and it is best learnt through such experiences,” states Colonel Sathya Rao, Director, Indus School of Leadership.