In your reply to my earlier query, you said people who are good at adventure sports tend to join the military. What is the connection? I plan to be a professional mountaineer. For this, I intend to do basic, advanced, and search and rescue courses from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi. Then I shall join an adventure travel company and go on expeditions to the Himalaya and, hopefully, the Everest. After that, I shall do professional mountaineering courses either in the US or New Zealand, and then join an adventure travel company and scale summits around the world. Please let me know what you think of this plan. Do you have any other advice for me?
Rohit Patkar, Mumbai
The Army, Navy, Air Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Border Security Force etc, perform adventure activities. They launch their own expeditions and also enter teams for events. So joining these services is one option for adventure sports athletes. Wherever you work, remember that a job requires you to do that which suits your employer or your superiors, and rarely matches your personal ambitions and dreams.
If you join an adventure travel company after your mountaineering courses, you will have to initially work as a tour operator. You will need to escort foreign teams to the base camps of peaks in India and look after their travel, accommodation, food, porterage, and base camp logistics. In your free time, you can join mountaineering expeditions launched by clubs and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. Many people prefer to work part-time for adventure tour companies so that they get enough free time for their own climbing.
As you gain climbing experience, and get to know the normal routes on popular peaks, you might get a chance to accompany a team as a guide. This can start you off on the journey to becoming a mountain guide. You can earn qualification from the United States or New Zealand if you wish, though I personally feel the United Kingdom system turns out the finest guides.
After this, emigration is the best option. At the moment, there are very few opportunities for educated, qualified mountain guides in India. Abroad, you will get more income and prestige. Climbing summits around the world is expensive business. You will have to earn enough to launch your own trips.
If you want to do the Seven Summits — the highest peak on each continent — you will need a considerable amount. So far, only one Indian has conquered all Seven Summits — Malli Mastan Babu of Hyderabad.