The Summit Within – Summary

Major Ahluwalia was a member of the first team conquering Mount Everest in 1965. In The Summit Within he tells about his feelings standing on the highest peak of the world.


Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia was a member of the first successful Indian expedition to Mount Everest in 1965.

His first feeling was of humility. He thanked God because the expedition had ended successfully. He was both happy and sad. He felt aggrieved because he had reached the summit and after that there would be nothing higher to climb.

Climbing Mount Everest gives a deep sense of joy which lasts for lifetime. The experience changes one completely. It was a conquest of a high mountain. But the writer felt that climbing or getting over the summit of the mind was no less difficult. While climbing down from the top, he asked himself why he had chosen to climb. This achievement became a thing of the past. It would fade with the passing of time. He questioned himself as to why people wish to climb high mountains. The simplest answer is that it is a difficult task, and man feels great in overcoming difficulties. Climbing a mountain is a tough task because it tests one’s physical strength and will power.

The writer then proceeds to answer the personal question. Mountains had an attraction for him since his childhood. He missed them while he was away from them. Their beauty and grandeur presented a challenge. Above all, mountains are a way to feel close to God.

But why Everest? He chose it because it was the highest and the most challenging task. It was a hard struggle with rocks and ice. When he stood on the summit, he felt the joy of having done something great, of achieving great victory. The call of Everest draws him to it. It is difficult to tell the reason for climbing. It is like answering why one breathes or why you do good acts.

The success is followed by a sense of fulfilment or satisfaction. It is a proof of man’s love for adventure. The experience is not just physical but spiritual. You make all your effort to go up. Breathing is difficult. There are moments when you feel like going back. But something in you checks you from giving up.

When you reach the top, you tell yourself that it was a rewarding effort. Below you see vast valleys. You bow down to God for your worship.

The writer left a picture of Guru Nanak and his companion Rawat left a picture of goddess Durga on Everest. Phu Dorji left a relic of the Buddha. Edmund Hillary buried a Cross under the rocks in the snow. These are symbols of respect to God.

There is another summit to climb. It is within yourself, your own mind. The most difficult task is to know oneself. One has to do it alone and himself. The writer’s experience as an Everester inspired him to face life boldly.

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