Malavath Purna is an Indian mountaineer who is famously known to be the youngest female climber in the world to conquer Mount Everest. She was only 13 years and 11 months old when she had scaled the summit on May 25, 2014.
Malavath Purna was born on June 10, 2000, in a remote village called Pakala in the Nizamabad district of Telangana state in India.
Malavath Purna aspires to scale all the tallest mountain peaks spread in seven continents. To date, she has already climbed six summits on six continents. Her next mission is to scale Mt. Denali, which is the highest mountain peak in North America.
Apart from her exceptional mountaineering career, Malavath Purna also strives to be an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer to serve her nation in the future.
early life and education
Malavath Purna comes from a tribal family in Telangana. She is the daughter of Devidas and Lakshmi Malavath. Her parents work as an agricultural laborer who earns about INRS 35,000 ($595) per year.
Due to their low earnings, Malavath’s parents used to have difficulty paying fees for her school. Therefore, her father had pushed 10-year-old Malavath to join Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS). Devidas mainly encouraged his daughter to join the school so that she would be able to get a better education and experience a better life beyond her village.
After completing her schooling in TSWRES, Purna joined a college at Tadvai in Kamareddy, India. She completed two of three years of her undergraduate degree in India. She mainly focused on history, economics, and political science during her time there.
She then moved to the US to complete one year of her undergraduate degree at Minnesota State University in Fall 2019. She was a fellow exchange student of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program which is funded by the US State Department during her time there.
She graduated from the university in May 2020.
expedition to Mount Everest
After joining the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS), Dr. R. S. Praveen Kumar, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, noticed Malavath Purna’s rock climbing skills. Later, Malavath was first sent to Mountaineering School in Darjeeling for her basic training and then to Ladakh for her advanced training.
After training for a few years, Purna was shortlisted for ‘Operation Everest’ among 110 students from 300 welfare schools. Operation Everest was a project organized by R. S. Praveen Kumar. Through the program, he aimed to train and encourage students in mountain climbing to help them understand that anything is possible.
Before summiting Mount Everest, Purna trained rigorously for eight months under Sekhar Babu, a professional mountaineer, to improve her physical fitness. As a part of her training, Malavath had to climb 17,000 ft Mount Rennock in the Kanchenjunga range. Furthermore, she also learned how to survive in sub-zero temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius in Ladakh.
After finishing her training, Malavath completed her expedition to Everest, 52 days through the Tibetan side, as the Nepalese government did not allow mountaineers below 16 years of age.
During the trip, most of her time was spent in different camps, as climbers must acclimate to the altitude before moving forward. Malavath had difficulty adapting to the higher altitude as she suffered from altitude sickness, including constant vomiting.
Purna had to come back to camp one base camp to spend more time acclimating due to her difficulty. She suffered from a lot of strain as she had to make a double trip upwards to centers situated in higher altitudes.
Three days after her arrival at the Everest base camp, a deadly avalanche had killed 16 Sherpas on the Nepalese side of the mountain on April 15, 2014. However, the incident did not deter Malavath’s will to climb Everest, and she reached the top of the mountain ten days after the incident on May 25, 2014.
Purna spent 15 minutes on the top of Mt. Everest before she and her team, which included her trainer Shekhar Babu, her friend Anand Kumar and a group of Sherpa, descended to the base camp. Her aim by completing the expedition was to inspire young people and students who come from marginalized and underprivileged backgrounds.
We believe Malavath was able to fulfill her aim. After her conquest, the number of admission applications at Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society increased to 60,000 from 8,700 students in a year.
Other mountain expeditions
After completing ‘Operation Everest,’ Malavath Purna took some time off from mountaineering to focus on her studies. However, after two years, she began planning more significant challenges as by climbing Everest, she had instilled confidence and faith in her mountaineering skills.
Her challenges included her climbing the seven highest summit on seven different continents.
Purna revealed that she trains a month before all her expedition and runs at least 20 kilometers each day while following a protein-rich diet.
She completed her second expedition in 2016 by conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain peak in Africa. She had completed the journey with her trainer Shekhar Babu and 17 other girls.
In 2017, Purna completed her third summit by conquering Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. She had made the trip with four of her colleagues, which included Sri Vidya (16), U Raghunath Reddy (28), Satya Rao (20), and Varsha Raul (28).
Although Malavath did not climb any mountain in 2018, she managed to summit three peaks in 2019. She conquered Mount Aconcagua, situated in the southern and western hemispheres in February 2019.
Purna revealed that her journey to Aconcagua was more difficult than her climb to Mt. Everest. She had to continually use safety helmets due to unpredictable rockfalls during the trip.
And on March 2019, Malavath climbed Indonesia’s highest peak Mount Carstensz, also known as Puncak Jaya, as her fifth expedition. Unlike her trip of 52 days in Everest, Malavath completed her journey to Mt. Cartensz in five days. She revealed that to conquer the mountain, she had to hike through dense jungle and go through rainy weather, making the terrain quite slippery.
In December 2019, Malavath completed her sixth expedition by ascending Mount Vinson Massif in Antarctica. After completing her trip, she confessed that climbing Mt. Vinson Massif was utterly different from the other five mountains she had climbed, as it was very steep and risky.
Purna had completed the expedition to Mt. Vinson Massif with a four-member group from 7 Summits Club, Russia. She was in Antarctica for two weeks to acclimatize to the weather averaged at -20 degrees F.
Furthermore, during her climb to the mountain, Malavath had to carry her 55 pounds of equipment like tents and a supply of food herself as she could not use porters there. She had made her expedition possible with the Telangana government’s help, Transcend Adventures, and through crowdfunding.
Malavath’s future goal is to climb Mount Denali, which is situated in North America. Her actual plan was to climb the mountain in the summer of 2020. She had even flown to Alaska for the expedition, but unfortunately, the trip got canceled due to poor weather.
Purna revealed that although her goal, for now, is to climb the seven highest summits, she has no plan to stop climbing or giving up her mountaineering career after checking off Mount Denali from her list.
recognition and awards
After returning to India from her Everest trip, Malavath Purna became a national celebrity. She got an opportunity to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who awarded her with a certificate that appreciated her work by India’s government.
Furthermore, the Telangana assembly also passed a resolution to appreciate Malavath.
The state’s Chief Minister awarded her with IN RS 25 lakhs cash gift and five acres of agricultural land with a two-bedroom house with necessary help for her education.
In 2015, Malavath was invited to New York to speak at the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Summit as a part of a campaign called Nine is Mine.
Apart from her recognition by the government of India and other international organizations, Malavath Purna also has a movie based on her life named ‘Poorna: Courage has no limit.’ The film was released in 2017 and was directed by Rahul Bose. Purna had unveiled the first look of the movie poster after she had conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Furthermore, Malavath also has a biopic written by Aparna Thota called ‘Poorna, The Youngest Girl in the World to Scale Mount Everest.’ The book captures Malavath Purna’s journey from dreaming of conquering Everest to achieving it in the end.