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Inspiring journey of the youngest girl to climb Mt. Everest

Malavath Purna's long journey to the top of the world started pretty close to the bottom. Charlie D'Agata reports on her remarkable story
13-year-old is youngest girl to scale Mount Everest 02:21

When Malavath Purna hoisted the Indian flag at the peak of Mount Everest, the 13-year-old made history as the youngest female ever to reach the top of the mountain, reports CBS News' Charlie D'Agata.

She said she wanted to prove that anyone from her background could do anything.

You could call Purna a "Slumdog Mountaineer." Like the characters in "Slumdog Millionaire," she came from India's impoverished lowest class known as the "untouchables" because no one wanted to go near them.

She had never taken a step on a mountain before taking this challenge. She was chosen from a group of disadvantaged children for a government program to inspire young people.

They had to take the hard way from the Tibetan side, a 52-day trek that included some of the steepest climbs on the mountain and some of the most perilous.

Even while Purna was there, an avalanche on the other side of the mountain killed 16 Sherpa guides, triggering a labor dispute that threatened to abandon climbers on the mountain.

She said admits she was afraid.

"My instructors told me I'd see dead bodies on the way to the summit. I knew every step was dangerous. I just carried on climbing," Purna said.

Grayson Schaffer, senior staff writer at Outside magazine warns that the trend toward younger climbers can be risky.

"Each time a person who is 14, 15, 16 years old goes up into the death zone, it's really kind of like this on-the-fly science experiment. We really have no idea what's going to happen," Schaffer said.

She's not the youngest person to climb Everest -- that honor belongs to American Jordan Romero who was a few months younger when he reached the peak back in 2010. As for Purna, she plans to continue climbing.

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