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HINSDALE, Ill. (CBS) — Hinsdale Central High School freshman Saanvi Sita Mylavarapu spent her spring break ascending over 11,000 feet to a Mount Everest base camp.
This summer, she plans to climb another of the tallest mountains in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro. CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek introduced us to the teenager on a mission Friday.
Saanvi has a message.
“We don’t need to save the planet,” she said. “We just need to stop spoiling it.”
She also has ambition.
“My goal is to summit Mount Everest before I graduate high school,” Saanvi said.
As a high school freshman, Saanvi’s passion for exploring the planet and protecting it is already informed by years of experience. She visited her first national park at 6 years old.
“We randomly ended up going to Mammoth Cave National Park and my mom loved it, and after that, we went to Arches National Park and a couple other national parks in Utah,” Saanvi said, “and ever since then, we’ve visited over 20 national parks in the U.S.”
While the miles hiked have quickly added up – Saanvi estimates she’s logged upward of 600 – it’s the rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other that she says makes nature such a brilliant educator.
“We’re always so fast in life, and I really take time to slow down a little bit,” she said, “and of course, there’s highs and lows on every hike. But I feel like once I get back, I don’t remember any of the lows. I always remember the great views though that I experience.”
Saanvi says she’s never experienced lows like on her most recent adventure – hiking to Mount Everest Base Camp and summiting Kala Patthar at 18,550 feet.
“I didn’t have insulated shoes, so my feet froze. So I was in a lot of pain when I was going up,” Saanvi said. “As I kept going higher and higher – especially starting from 11,000 feet – I just got these massive headaches that wouldn’t go away and I would get these massive stomachaches too because the higher you get, you just lose your appetite.”
But when Saanvi and her family made it to the top, it was all worth it.
“We saw the first sunrise on Mount Everest, and the sunrise literally hits the peak of Mount Everest,” she said. “It’s so beautiful. It just makes everything worth it.”
It’s such moments that Saanvi wants to share through her social media series “Saanvi Speaks” – inspiring others to not only fall in love with the planet, but also to work to protect it.
“It’s actually scientifically proven that the more time you spend around nature, your carbon footprint actually decreases,” she said, “so my whole perspective is go outside and explore the planet to the fullest extent and just learn from nature.”
Meanwhile, we apparently multiple awesome climbers around here. Lucy Westlake, 18, of Naperville just became the youngest American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
She breaks an age mark that had stood for 15 years.
Lucy’s feat included 10 hours in the dark in negative-20-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, with high winds as well.
Lucy, who’s reached the summit of the highest mountains five 5 continents, started climbing at the age of 7. She does distance running at altitude to help her training, while Saanvi does a lot of indoor rock climbing.
Both of these young women are motivated, and killing it, in the world of mountain climbing.