VISAKHAPATNAM: We do not want to be known as the grandparents in future, the power couple from Visakhapatnam, who summited Gilman’s Point on Mount Kilimanjaro, said. The couple also set records of sorts as Sowdamini Mallapragada won the title of being the first woman from Andhra to reach the summit at the age of 57. Her husband, Ravi Kishore Mallapragada, has become the second man in the State to achieve the feat at 61. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world.
Sowdamini is an elementary teacher at a government school in Visakhapatnam and Ravi Kishore is a mathematics professor at Yanbu Industrial College in Saudi Arabia. “We reached the summit at a turtle’s pace but with sheer determination. Halfway through the trek, I wanted to quit and go back. But my wife’s willpower encouraged me to reach Gilman’s peak (5685 mt/18652 ft) on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania,” Ravi Kishore said while recalling the strenuous expedition.
With layers of clothing, extreme temperatures ranging between 10 degrees Celsius and -5 degress Celsius, the couple managed to reach to the reach the summit in six days. They began their trek on July 25.“I have been trekking for the past 50 years. In 2019, I decided to climb Kilimanjaro, to evaluate myself to see if I could climb the Everest,” he said when asked about his motive to take up the trek.
However, the Covid pandemic played spoilsport and his plans were delayed. When Ravi Kishore started planning his journey to Tanzania in July, he was not sure about his wife joining him. “She barely gets time for physical exercise. But at one point during our trek, she continued to move forward, leaving me behind. That was the moment I decided to continue hiking with her, Ravi Kishore said.
While it took six hours for other mountaineers to reach the desired points, it took them around 10-11 hours. Unlike a lot of mountaineers who talk about achievements, Ravi Kishore and Sowdamini stressed on the need to understand one’s body and mind before taking up such challenges.“We have been on a lot of treks in and around the country. But they were not even close to what we experienced on Kilimanjaro,” Ravi Kishore said.
Just like every other climber, the couple suffered their own share of mountain sickness such as headache, vomiting, nausea, runny nose, fever, sleeplessness, shortness of breath. But that did not stop them from reaching Gilman’s peak. The professor expressed that it is okay for a person to quit midway without feeling the pressure of goals, success or achievement sometimes.
“Everything we do in our lives does not have to be concerned with success and achievements. Some things are meant to be explored and tried for the sake of experience,” the couple believed.“ We should start concentrating on our health as we get older,” Ravi Kishore opined.