September 24, 2019
“The greatest danger in life is not to take the adventure”- George Leigh Mallory
Being a medical oncologist (cancer specialist) by profession, the greatest regret what most of my patients face is not been able to lead their personal life quite well. There are three parts to anyone’s life - the professional life, the family life and the personal life. The present generation spend most of their personal life on a phone, just browsing. Their personal time is better spent on painting, singing or whatever you want to do outdoor. For me, this ‘me time’ is about trekking, mountaineering or just being fit. So when someone asked me to write an article for Fit India movement, I said why not.
For me being fit was never about going to the gym. Instead it was about activities like horse riding (thought to me by Avinand Achanahally of Mangaluru horse riding academy), swimming (learnt from Pundalik from MCC swimming pool), and surfing (learnt from Dhruvin Jasani from Stoked Surfers’ Club). But the best thing I learnt, personally is rock climbing (learnt from Shekar Babu, Mount Everest climber and Tenzing Norgay national adventure award winner) which needs a lot of physical fitness. Preparation for any high altitude mountain begins from cycling around 50-100kms, running 10-30kms and walking stairs starting 3 months prior departure. We walk stairs usually with a 2 kg ankle weight and a backpack of 20kgs, 200 floors (2000 steps) at least twice a week.
Largest Tricolour flag over Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus summit
Sunrise below us at Mount Kilimanjaro
Near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro
Somewhere near the summit of Stok Kangri
Learning my rock climbing basics
Ready for the next mountain
With this training, I have been able to climb two of seven highest summits (highest mountain in each continents). At Mount Elbrus, which is the highest mountain of Europe (5642 meters= 18,510 feet) was able to unfurl the largest Indian flag along with team members. We have applied for this feat to be entered into Limca Book of Records, Indian records and high range of world records. Even the sight of top of Kilimanjaro (5895 metres=19,341 feet) which is the highest mountain of Africa is a moment to cherish for a life time. We stand above above the clouds and look down for the sun rise below us. How many times in a lifetime would this be possible?
But mountains are not just the summits. It is about snow, bad weather, rains, leeches, climbing partners, cooking food, bonding and living life to the fullest. It is about enjoying the journey and not just the destination. Mountaineering in Mangaluru usually beings with the Western Ghats. This was introduced to me by Dinesh Holla, around 20 years ago. After exploring most of Western Ghats, went on to explore waterfalls, rock climbing, bouldering and eventually the high altitude mountains filled with snow. My first snow trekking was at Stok Kangri (6153 meters=20,500 feet) facing temperature as low as -20c due to bad weather.
Being a doctor have seen medical emergencies when people are not well acclimatized for high altitude including pulmonary edema and high altitude cerebral sickness. This has nothing to do with age or fitness but matters on rapidity of ascent and attitude to return back if things go wrong. With the right attitude of summiting being optional and returning base safely being the priority, any high altitude mountain can be tried ease. Many ask us why you climb mountains, as it is an expensive affair. My sir would reply to this by saying, ‘Why do you pay money and go to movie theatres. It is all about doing things what you love in life’. However, my mountaineering journey does not end here I would love to climb all the seven summits, do rock climbing at Yosemite Valley and one day open a rock climbing institute in Mangaluru.
In our life the first 2-3 decades are spent in training for our professional life. But when we actually have time to do what we want to, we just run behind money. Having a healthy balance between professional, family and personal life gives a meaning to life. After all, we have around 50 weekend in a year and around 1,500 to 2,000 weekend in a lifetime, make sure it is filled with memories which you most cherish.
Life is all about living.
“One day your life will flash before eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching”- Gerard Way.