PETALING JAYA: Malaysian mountaineer Ravichandran Tharumalingam, better known as “Ravi”, has been climbing mountains all over the world for 25 years.
Ravi recently conquered Uganda’s Margherita Peak on Mount Stanley, which is 5,109 metres above sea level and the highest point in Uganda.
According to the Uganda High Commission to Malaysia’s website, Ravi was invited to climb the mountain by Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities and its agencies.
In an interview with The Observer, Ravi revealed the origins of his career and his plans for the future.
“I come from a poor family outside the city and we used to stay close to the jungle. That is how I became close to nature and mountaineering,” Ravi said.
He added that because he was active in sports during his school days, he could combine the two in taking up mountaineering.
Speaking about his first experience mountaineering, Ravi said, “It was 25 years ago when I started to explore the Alpine mountains. Slowly, I started to climb the bigger mountains.”
Finally, on May 15, 2006, Ravi scaled Mount Everest, his greatest achievement up to that point.
But Ravi was not satisfied with that alone.
He began to travel to various countries on different continents to climb mountains known as the Seven Summits.
Ravi also related some of his most difficult moments while climbing mountains, saying that he once had to be rescued by a group after being caught in an avalanche. He has also seen many of his friends die in their efforts to scale mountains.
However, Ravi remained upbeat, saying, “The negative effects will not take me off the mountain. They just stay with me as memories.”
“There is a special thing people gain when they climb mountains. Every journey has a special memory.”
Ravi expects to continue climbing until he is 70, because he is driven by the prospect of scaling new mountains.
“Every time I have a journey to a new peak, that will keep me going. Every year I need to have at least five new peaks to climb,” he said.
“This passion will not die because the mountains are always there.”
Ravi’s 10-year-old daughter is also an accomplished mountain climber. She has even reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
“The moment your child gets involved in something, you will be scared. However, when they are into it, then you give them the chance to do it,” he said of his daughter following in his footsteps.
Ravi is a member of the Global Expedition Club, and he participates in its programme to reach out to ordinary people to get them involved in an outdoorsy lifestyle and hiking.
Despite his many achievements over his long career, Ravi remains unconcerned about his reputation.
“I have never looked at building my own name. I am more into enjoying my journey.
“Everybody can climb a mountain. I just want people to remember me as a mountaineer.”