Benjamin Chan Ka-hei, the 19-year-old, who on Monday became the youngest person from Hong Kong to climb Mount Everest, Earth’s highest mountain, said that he wasn’t interested in university after he graduated from King George V school last year. Instead, he said, he wanted to do something he would remember for the rest of his life. “I became interested in the mountains when I [began scouting] at the age of 13,” Benjamin told Young Post while at the Everest base camp in the Himalayas.
Benjamin said that on his first ever hike, he remembers jumping off a water cliff and cutting his arm. He has to be rushed to the hospital and was given 17 stitches. But that didn’t deter Benjamin from wanting to become an adventurer, in fact, it only fuelled his desire.
“Even though I ended up getting hurt, my thrill and excitement for the outdoors started from there, and I was always searching for the next adrenaline rush and less frequented trails in Hong Kong.”
Benjamin hopes to become the youngest person to complete the Explorer’s Grand Slam and reach the highest mountain summit of every continent – seven in total. He was inspired by Marin Minamiya – who holds the record as the youngest person to complete the feat – and is also from Hong Kong.
“I had just graduated from high school at KGV when I heard about Marin’s remarkable achievement,” Benjamin said.
“It seemed almost coincidental that when it happened, I knew I wanted to do this. I was already in love with the mountains but I didn’t have the vision to tackle something as big as this. So I contacted her and she gave me some words of encouragement and advice.”
Benjamin has spent a long time preparing and training himself for this challenging feat. “The past eight years of my life spent outdoors have helped me accumulate experience in dangerous situations. Training consisted of regular hikes with a 20kg pack through Beacon Hill, Lion Rock and Sha Tin Pass, as well as bouldering in Just Climb, [to build] upper body strength.
“Mount Everest is a mountain to be trained for seriously, as so many inexperienced people have passed away on it, taking the mountain too lightly.”
Thankfully, Benjamin’s training paid off and now he’s looking forward to his next big climb.
“It went as well as it could’ve gone,” he said after climbing the tallest mountain on Earth.
In addition to Everest, he was able to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – the tallest mountain in Africa in December, and Mount Aconcagua – the highest point in the Southern Hemisphere located in Argentina in January – which he called his proudest moment.
“Summiting Aconcagua was incredible,” Benjamin said.
“It took 20 days just to climb the one mountain, so when I got to the top, I burst into tears thinking about all the hard work that had gone into it, all the gritty dehydrated food I had eaten before.
“My body was shutting down, lactic acid was running through my legs, but it was all worth it.”