Rajasekar Pachai says mental fitness is more important than physical fitness to scale the Everest

On 19 May, 27-year-old Rajasekar became the first person from the fishing village Kovalam in Tamil Nadu to climb Mount Everest.


Published May 24, 2023 | 6:53 PMUpdatedMay 25, 2023 | 11:45 AM

Rajasekar Pachai

Rajasekar Pachai gives more weight to mental than physical fitness when it comes to finishing on top of the Himalayas.

He should know, as someone who submitted the peak. Which most only dream of, in less than a year of it popping into his head as an idea.

On 19 May, 27-year-old Rajasekar Pachai became the first person from the fishing village Kovalam in Tamil Nadu to climb Mount Everest.

“I cannot explain the feeling of standing there. It felt like I was on top of the world, everything was so far away, and white. I didn’t realise that I was crying for some time. That moment was worth all my challenges,” said Rajasekar Pachai.

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Rajasekar Pachai at the Surf festival

Rajasekar Pachai at the Surf festival. (Instagram)

The biggest challenge was the extreme cold, said Rajasekar Pachai. “It touched -40 on Everest. I did expose myself to the harsh winters of the Himalayas during training. But that was nothing, the temperature in Manali dipped to -10 at most.”

He explained: “It was so bone-chilling that I don’t think I could ever get used to it. It was so difficult to even sleep in the tent, despite all the gear that we had.”

But if one thing Rajasekar Pachai had in abundance, it was determination. “And I was not afraid of hard work,” he added.

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Wanted to prove

He said the idea to climb the Everest came in August last year. “My friends and I were sweeping all the competitions organised at Surf Fest in Kovalam. But some people were dismissing our hard-won moments as something we were born into since we all belonged to the fishermen community. I wanted to prove them wrong by participating in a sport that had nothing to do with the sea.”

Less than a year of training

Once he decided on mountain climbing, Rajasekar Pachai did not waste any time. He started his very basic mountain climbing training in the hills of Tirusulem.

“Strapping on weights, I walked up and down, doing daily for 5-8 km. In October I moved to the Himalayas, once I got the hang of it, and managed to find sponsors for my trek. We hired a Sherpa, and I started with Yunam Peak,” said Rajasekar Pachai.

Rajasekar Pachai further adds, “Once that was done, I went to Nepal and climbed four peaks there. In January, I trained myself to walk in the snow in Manali. My sherpa also taught me a lot of survival skills. Finally, on 20 April, I was ready for Lobuche Peak. It was the qualifier for the Mount Everest climb. On 16 May, we started from the base camp.”

Never once did he question whether he would be able to summit or not, said Rajasekar. “It was just a question of time. Initially, I thought it might take two and a half years or so. But once I started, I realised that I could get around to it in a year,” said Rajasekar Pachai.


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A post shared by Rajasekar Pachai (@kuttisurf)

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Drawn to physically challenging sports

Rajasekar Pachai said he was always drawn to physically challenging sports. “I was four times national champion at a warrior obstacle race,” he added.

But mountain climbing was a different ball game altogether, he said. “There were many moments that I wanted to come back. Especially, when I came across dead bodies, nameless fear gripped me. But mentally I was stronger than I thought I was. I was able to push myself,” said Rajasekar.

Recalling a fellow American climber who was physically in far better shape than him, Rajasekar Pachai said, “But he could not do it because he started asking ‘can I’. Once you start asking questions like that, you are done. It is possible to succeed only when you are extremely focused on climbing, with not even an inch of doubt,” said Rajasekar.

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