Reach for the Top

Summary of ‘Reach for the Top

This biographical story tells us about the life and achievements of Santosh Yadav, who became the youngest and the first woman to scale Mt. Everest twice. She was born in Joniawas village in Rothak district, where the birth of a girl child was not welcomed. Just before her birth a holy man was about to bless her mother with a son, but was surprised when her grandmother told him that they wanted a daughter. Santosh was born as the sixth child after her five brothers. She was a rebellious child who dressed in shorts like her brothers and expected others to change, if what she was doing was right.

 Although her parents were affluent and could well afford to have her educated in the best schools in Delhi like her brothers; she was compelled to study in the village school as per village customs. When she turned sixteen, her parents wanted her to get married like the other girls of the village. Marriage at that stage was the last thing in her mind and Santosh clearly stated that she would never get married if she did not get proper education. She got herself enrolled in a school in Delhi against her parent’s wishes.

When her parents refused to pay for her education she informed them that she would work overtime in order to pay her fees. Her parents conceded, and thereafter she went on to pursue higher studies from Maharani College in Jaipur. From her Room in Kasturba Hostel, she often watched villagers going up the Arravali hills and vanishing after sometime. Her curiosity took her to the Aravalli hills where she met a few mountaineers who permitted her to join them. This incident motivated her to take up climbing.

She got herself enrolled in Uttarkashi’s Nehru Institute of Engineering and directly went to Uttarkashi after her semesters instead of going home. She later wrote a letter of apology to her father for not taking his permission before enrolling herself for training. Her mountaineering expeditions every year showed her exceptional climbing skills, physical and mental strength and resistance to cold and altitude.  In 1992 just four years after her first climb in the Aravallis, she became the youngest woman to climb Everest. She won over her fellow climbers with her dexterity, team-spirit and concern for others. She unsuccessfully tried to save a fellow climber in South Col. but was successful in saving Mohan Singh by sharing her oxygen with him.

She became a member of the Indo- Nepalese team and was successful in scaling the Everest twice in 1993. She was honoured with the Padmashri award for her exceptional achievements. The unfurling of the tricolour on top of the world was a spiritual moment for a true patriot like Santosh Yadav. She felt proud to be an Indian.  She is also a zealous  environmentalist who brought down five hundred kilos of garbage from the Himalayas.


Contentment : satisfaction

The last thing : a thing of least importance

Politely : gently

Urge : a very strong desire

Check it out : find  out

Answered in the affirmative: gave a positive reply

No looking back : no stopping

Enrolled : took admission

Headed straight for – went directly to

Matured – developed

top honours: highest awards

the enormity of the moment: a very great moment

sink in: be understood

held it aloft: held it up high

fervent: having strong and sincere feelings

Thinking about the Text – Question -Answers of ‘Reach for the Top’

I. Answer these questions in one or two sentences each. (The paragraph numbers within brackets provide clues to the answers.)

1.Why was the ‘holy man’ who gave Santosh’s mother his blessings surprised?

Ans .  The holy man had assumed that Santosh’s mother would want a son according to the norms of the society. He was ready to bless her with a son but was taken by surprise when Santosh’s grandmother told him that they did not want a son but a daughter.

2. Give an example to show that even as a young girl Santosh was not ready to accept anything unreasonable.

Ans.Santosh tried her best to be independent of the unreasonable traditional customs. She was determined to choose the correct path and if the others were against her, it was they who would have to change. She would not buldge from her decision. 

3. Why was Santosh sent to the local school?

Ans. Santosh’s parents were affluent land owners and could well afford to send their children to the best schools. However, they choose to send Santosh to the local village school in accordance with the prevailing norms of the family and the society at large.

4. When did she leave home for Delhi, and why?

Ans.  Unlike the other girls of the village, Santosh wanted a proper education and getting married before that was the last thing on her mind. So, at the age of sixteen, she left home and got herself enrolled in a school in Delhi.

5. Why did Santosh’s parents agree to pay for her schooling in Delhi? What mental qualities of Santosh are brought into light by this incident?

Ans. Santosh’s parents agreed  to pay for her schooling when she informed them of her plans to pay for her school fees by working parttime.

II. Answer each of these questions in a short paragraph (about 30 words).

1. How did Santosh begin to climb mountains?

Ans. While staying in Jaipur for pursuing higher studies in Maharani College, Santosh used to watch, villagers going up the hill and suddenly vanishing from her room in Kasturba Hostel which overlook the Aravali hills.

One day she decided to check it out herself and found nobody but a few mountaineers and asked if she could join them.To her pleasant surprise, they agreed and motivated her to take up climbing. 

2. What incidents during the Everest expedition show Santosh’s concern for her team-mates?

Ans. Santonsh’s  concern for her teammates could be seen during the 1992  Everest  Mission where she provided special care for a climber who lay dying. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful.

In another case she did manage to save the life of Mohan Singh by sharing her oxygen with him

3. What shows her concern for the environment?

Ans. As a fervent environmentalist, Santosh’s concern over nature could be seen when she collected and brought down five hundred kilogram of garbage from the Himalayas.

4. How does she describe her feelings at the summit of the Everest?

Ans. At the summit of the Everest , Santosh Yadav took some time to let the enormity of the moment sink in. She then unfurled the Indian tricolour and it aloft on the roof of the world. It was a spiritual moment and Santosh felt proud. 

5. Santosh Yadav got into the record books both times she scaled Mt Everest. What were the reasons for this?

Ans.  At barely twenty years of age, Santosh Yadav scaled Mt. Everest, becoming the youngest woman in the world to achieve the feat.

In 1993 , she scaled Mt. Everest  for the second time, thus becoming the first woman to scale the Everest twice.

Extra questions: -‘Reach for the Top

Q. Write the character sketch of Maria Sarapova.

Born in Siberia, Maria Sarapova possesses great determination and mental toughness. Leaving no room for sentiments she believes that her sacrifices were worth her achievements. She is patriotic and is proud of her Russian nationality. She was forever ready to represent Russia in the Olympics. She describes herself as a competitive player who loves to face challenges.

Apart from being a successful professional tennis player, she lists fashion, singing and dancing as her hobbies. She has an affinity for sophisticated evening gowns, pancakes with chocolate spread and fizzy drinks. Maria Sarapova states that while monetary gains are a motivation for her, what she truly strives for is to be is to be seeded as number one in world rankings.

Q. Write a brief character sketch of Santosh Yadav

Santosh Yadav holds the  record for being the youngest and the first woman to scale Mt. Everest twice. Displaying her stubbornness on continuing her education and taking up mountaineering later she was forever determined to complete any task she took up. Aside from her mountaineering ambitions she is a kind and helpful human being who risked her life to save those of her fellow climbers. Her climbing skills, mental strength, physical fitness, team-spirit along with her concern for others never fail to impress those around her.  Apart from being an ace mountaineer , she is an ardent environmentalist who brought down five hundred kilograms of trash from Everest in her desire to keep the mountains clean.

Q. Compare and contrast the struggles and achievements of Santosh yadav and Maria Sarapova.

Ans. Maria started her journey at nine while Santosh Yadav started rebelling to continue her education at the age of sixteen.Unlike Maria’s parents who sacrificed a lot to help her achieve her goals, Santosh’s parents were against her ambition and she had to reach her goals through her own grit. Both of them possess great mental strength as is evident from Maria’s case of being bullied by her seniors and Santosh’s  stubbornness in continuing her education. Their will power and strong desire to succeed is a common feature which did not leave any room for sentiments when it came to reaching their goals. They are both very patriotic. Maria says that she is willing to represent  Russia in the Olympics if they ask her to and Santosh Yadav felt proud as an Indian holding the tricolour at highest peak in the world. 

III. Complete the following statements.

1. From her room in Kasturba Hostel, Santosh used to  watch villagers go up the Aravalli Hills and vanish after a while.

2. When she finished college, Santosh had to write a letter of apology to her father because she had enrolled herself for mountain training in Uttarkashi without his permission, and she had gone there straight, instead of  going home.

3. During the Everest expedition, her seniors in the team admired her climbing skills, physical fitness and mental strength while her team-spirit  and concern for others endeared her to fellow climbers.

IV. Pick out words from the text that mean the same as the following words or expressions. (Look in the paragraphs indicated.)

1. took to be true without proof (1):– assumed

2. based on reason; sensible; reasonable (2): – rational

3. the usual way of doing things (3): – custom

4. a strong desire arising from within (5): –  urge

5. the power to endure, without falling ill (7): – resistance