An ambitious young mountain climber in Dubai is aiming to make history by climbing three of the world’s highest peaks in less than a year.
It is an extraordinary achievement at any age, but Ayaan Saboor Mendon is only eight.
Having completed two already, he is planning on conquering the third, Europe’s highest peak of Mount Elbrus, in Russia next month before his ninth birthday.
“When I turned eight, my dad said I could climb Mount Kilimanjaro with them and I was so excited, it just made me feel happy,” said Ayaan.
“Now I am finally going to check Mount Elbrus off my bucket list next month.”
Conversations about bucket lists are not the kind you expect from eight-year-olds but then Ayaan is far from ordinary.
He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, accompanied by his parents, in August.
Last month he scaled Mount Kosciuszko, mainland Australia's tallest mountain at 2,228 metres.
“My love for climbing comes from my parents,” he said.
“My parents summited Mount Elbrus and I really wanted to join them but I was only six and too young at the time.
“I started doing summits because I like challenges. I chose Mount Kosciuszko to challenge myself but it ended up being easier than I expected.
“The best part is seeing the sign on the top of the mountain that congratulates you for climbing so high.”
The youngster undergoes a training regime that would be impressive by any standards.
Running on the treadmill, carrying heavy weights on his back while walking, sledge push exercises and obstacle course training are all key to his preparation.
He has also participated in Tough Mudder and Spartan competitions.
His sights, and those of his parents, are firmly set on setting a record of becoming the first person to climb three of the world’s highest peaks before the age of nine.
“Ayaan never gives up. When we got down from Kilimanjaro, his first question was – what’s my next mountain?” said his mother Vani Mendon, 37, from India.
“I never thought he would be this serious about climbing but whenever my husband and I would go on a hike after the trip, he always asked to come along.”
His mother, who works for a waste management company, admitted there were occasions when she had mixed feelings about her son’s love of mountain climbing.
“There’s that protectiveness that kicks in. Am I doing the right thing? Is this safe?” she said.
“Any mountain, big or small, everything is equally dangerous, especially with a kid who loves running. It is not a pleasant feeling at times but at the same time I am very proud. I feel nice.
“I believe Ayaan is on the right track.”
Ayaan’s trip to Mount Elbrus will be far from the end of his journeys, though. He plans to climb Argentina’s Mount Aconcagua in December with his parents.
He also has a longer-term goal. Ayaan has spoken to his father about plans to conquer the world’s highest mountain Everest, once he turns 12.