In love with embracing danger, this volcano climber gets a high whenever he escapes from the clutches of death.
The quest for adventure is surely one of the most innate and insatiable desires in humans — the more one explores, the further one wishes to go. But not many would do what Sai Teja Peddineni does to experience an adrenaline rush. This “volcano man” has reached the summit of two volcanic mountains in less than a year, with the latest being Mount Agung in Bali. In case the name hasn’t rung a bell yet, Agung is the same peak that has been raising a lot of concern in Indonesia owing to its consistent eruption of volcanic ash for a while now.
So dangerous is the situation that almost 40,000 people living in the vicinity have fled the area in a bid to save themselves. It’s no wonder then that the local government doesn’t encourage anyone to go remotely close to the peak. As a result, most adventure seekers set on the risky journey without caring for permissions.
That brings us to Sai, who shares that his desire to “look at death in the face” has been the biggest motivating factor that pushed him to do this a second time after scaling Mount Dukono in mid-2017. “Scaling Agung was a lot tougher than Dukono. I expected a basic trail commonly seen on mountains but the vegetation was reduced to burnt brittle branches and twigs that made my journey rough. I wasn’t prepared or equipped to get out of this scenario. However, I raced against time and finished the two-way journey in 18 hours,” he shares.
As he narrates the startling incidents that were a part of his trip up and down the mountain, it unsettles the mind, haunting it with concern on most occasions. After all, it’s not every day that you interact with someone who’s seen death at close quarters.
From escaping life-threatening situations like being washed away in flash floods to almost becoming disoriented due to emissions of poisonous gases, this youngster surely got the adventure he was looking for. Sai recalls, “The gear is one of the most important things on such trips and on my way back, my shoes started to slip because of the volcanic ash around. That’s when I realised that the sole had melted and softened. Well, that surely wasn’t the end of my worries though because there was fog all around, that made it impossible to see anything. I couldn’t even switch on my lights as it would get me caught.”
As if that wasn’t crazy enough, he says, “The sulphur was burning my eyes and I couldn’t rub or deal with them in any way; because my whole body was covered in sulphur too.”
Sai also reveals his family’s ordeal. “My mother fell sick as soon as I left for the trip. She obviously was agitated. In fact, there was a moment during this journey when I thought it was the end, but it was the thought of her and my family that pushed me to try harder to make an attempt to live. And here I am. Back and safe,” he shares.
It makes one wonder, why does he even have to do this in the first place. He concludes, “Because in life, you’ve got to do a lot more than just exist.”