Sai Kawde, who is only 10 years old, has scaled 79 forts in Maharashtra and several mountains in India and around the world. His father, Sudhir Kawde, says, “Sai began climbing at the age of 4 by trekking at Shivneri fort. Since then, he has been to 79 forts.”
Sai learnt how to climb a hill from his father’s friends. “My friends Anil Wagh and Anand Bansode, who are expert mountaineers, taught him rappelling and mountaineering,” he said.
Sai, who lives in a chawl, Pimple Nilakh, in Pimpri-Chinchwad, climbed Stok Kangri, the highest mountain in the Stok Range of the Himalayas in Ladakh in 2018, with financial assistance from his school — Bharati Vidyapeeth, Balewadi.
On the 70th Republic Day, Sai scaled Mt Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. For this, he received monetary help from MLA Laxman Jagtap.
“He climbed up to 18,800 feet in temperatures as low as —18 degrees Celsius and celebrated Republic Day by hoisting the Tricolour and singing the national anthem,” said Kawde, who trains his son and always accompanies him. “This fetched him a place in the India Book of Records,” he said.
Sai also climbed Vajir Pinnacle in Maharashtra, and paid tribute to the soldiers killed in the Pulwama terror attack.
The family is seeking financial support from the government so Sai can continue climbing. “He is preparing to set another record at Mount Elbrus, which is considered the highest mountain in Europe, on 15 August 2019, the 73rd Independence Day of India,” said Kawde, who works at a local broadband connection company. Sai’s mother, Ketaki, is a homemaker.
Sai was felicitated last month by Shiv Sena youth wing chief Aaditya Thackeray in Pimpri. Aaditya had said, “Sai is a brave child. His fortitude and guts need to be appreciated. All of Maharashtra is proud of him.”