NO STOPPING HIM: Prakash Harripersadh, 72, of Effingham, who has summited seven international mountains including Kala Patthar (Everest Base Camp), says the older generation can do almost anything that their younger counterparts can.
NO STOPPING HIM: Prakash Harripersadh, 72, of Effingham, who has summited seven international mountains including Kala Patthar (Everest Base Camp), says the older generation can do almost anything that their younger counterparts can.
Scaling mountains is the equivalent of fighting in World War II for retired contractor Prakash “Bob” Harripersadh who, since retiring, has scaled the 6962m Aconcagua in South America, 5642m Elbrus in Russia and 5545m Kala Patthar in Nepal. And Africa’s peaks, including Kilimanjaro, Kenya and much of the Drakensberg.

“As I felt proud of my dad for fighting in World War II, I wanted to do something to make my kids feel proud of me,” 72-year-old Harripersadh, from Red Hill, told The Independent on Saturday.

“I grew up in a poor family but we all had dreams. When I turned 60, my own family were all sorted out so I decided ‘life begins now’.”

So, he hiked up Sani Pass, which took him nine hours - eight years later the same Pass both ways took him four hours, 15 minutes.

“I race it every year for Choc, the children’s cancer charity,” he said.

Now his sights are set on the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest (8848m).

Mountaineering adventurer Prakash Harripersadh is scaling new heights at the ripe old age of 72. Video: Duncan Guy

The oldest person to have climbed Everest, was Japanese Yuichiro Miura, who was 80 when he made his ascent five years ago.

While Harripersadh admitted loving coffee and Coca-Cola, he said that never having drunk alcohol or smoked a cigarette had credited him with good health. Eating at set times rather than picking from the kitchen also gave him the discipline for keeping rations for later days up mountains rather than eating them immediately.

“I’m also a God-fearing person. I think that if it was not for God helping me, at my age, I would not have done these things,” said Harripersadh, who is a devout Hindu.

On Aconcagua, the highest mountain he has summited, Harripersadh frequently saw sticks standing up in the snow, marking where a climber had perished.

“I had that fear that I could be next.”

NO STOPPING HIM: Prakash Harripersadh, 72, of Effingham, who has summited seven international mountains including Kala Patthar (Everest Base Camp), says the older generation can do almost anything that their younger counterparts can.

On Mount Elbrus, he resisted offers of vodka from his husband-wife guides.

A German couple appreciated the help he gave them along the way and wrote him a letter in their language, which he has framed.

On Kala Patthar, he helped a younger climber by carrying her bags when she came down with altitude sickness.

Again, he brought notes of appreciation and gratitude down the mountain.

Climbing to Everest Base Camp, the second oldest person on his trip was 32.

“A third of the people of the expedition didn’t make it,” he said.

On Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, Harripersadh went up with ease but battled on the way down.

“I felt so good at Uhuru Summit.”

NO STOPPING HIM: Prakash Harripersadh, 72, of Effingham, who has summited seven international mountains including Kala Patthar (Everest Base Camp), says the older generation can do almost anything that their younger counterparts can.

Mount Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak, was more difficult for him. “It was rugged. I saw people fall down and injure themselves on loose stones. It was sad.”

Focused on their ambitions, mountaineers were “different people”, he said. He described himself as one who “cannot stop”. In spite of the world peaks Harripersadh has climbed, Sani Pass remains his favourite.

“I advise people to do it first to see if they like mountaineering, before they go about buying all the expensive kit.”

He made his wife, Navi, four children and five granddaughters proud with all his mountaineering achievements.

Meanwhile, Harripersadh’s message is that people must live their dreams.

“The biggest problem we have is making excuses. We can’t do this, we can’t do that. We have to put excuses aside,” he said.