Blurred vision reversed, Sonu scales mountains; next stop Kilimanjaro

An employee of a logistics firm in Bengaluru, Sonu met with an accident in 2018 when the scooter she was riding on overturned after a dog jumped in front of her near Pazhakulam.
Sonu Soman on way to Everest base camp during last year’s trekking.
Sonu Soman on way to Everest base camp during last year’s trekking. (Photo| | Express)

PATHANAMTHITTA : The likelihood of vision loss, after an accident, struck Sonu Soman out of the blue. But the potential crisis only toughened the 28-year-old Adoor resident, prompting her to explore the beauty of the world from its highest points -- even from Mount Everest -- before “turning blind”.

Her passion and determination to conquer the heights even with 70% vision has been such that her eyesight, aided of course by medical treatment, has taken a turn for the better.

An employee of a logistics firm in Bengaluru, Sonu met with an accident in 2018 when the scooter she was riding on overturned after a dog jumped in front of her near Pazhakulam. She suffered grave injuries to the nerves to her eyes.

Devastated by blurred vision, which doctors said could be lost completely any time, Sonu decided not to give up on the charms of life. Instead, she decided to capture it from the heights. Along with friends, she initially started trekking small hills. Later, after exploring various places including Agasthyarkoodam, Banasura, Brahmagiri, and Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand, she got herself trained to scale mountainous terrain. As passion took over, she couldn’t resist going to the base camp of Mount Everest, quitting her job in Bengaluru.

At an altitude of 5,364 metres, Sonu, the only Keralite in a 20-member group, reached the Everest base camp in May last year. “Despite the possibility of going blind, the doctors allowed me to scale the mountains, a positivity which led me further. I had breathing issues, severe headache, and other high altitude sickness in between, but the effort didn’t affect my vision,” Sonu said. As she fought the altitude relentlessly, even blindness seemed to have been put on the back foot. And after sustained treatment, her vision slowly improved, eventually healing fully.

After the life-changing journey to Mount Everest, Sonu is all set to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa’s tallest mountain and the largest free-standing mountain rise in the world at about 5,895 metres. While the Everest base camp trip cost her over Rs 2 lakh, Sonu is keen to overcome the financial constraints ahead of the trip starting on July 9 from Mumbai. Her eight-member trekking group will start scaling Kilimanjaro on July 11, with the effort scheduled to be completed by July 17.

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