I want to pursue a professional career in adventure sports, either as an instructor or in the international arena. What is the scope of employment in adventure sports such as kayaking, mountaineering, skydiving and paragliding in India? Where can I learn skydiving in India? Which are the best countries and institutes for doing these courses and what is the approximate cost of each course? Can I avail of scholarships? Which of these courses requires prior experience? For instance, you need to have a good amount of experience to qualify for mountain guide courses in New Zealand.
Rohit Patkar, Mumbai
Most people who excel in adventure sports start adventure travel companies. Many join the military. While some emigrate and teach abroad, others supplement their income by writing for publications.
Adventure tour companies employ mountain climbers, white water and paragliding experts, skydivers, mountain bikers, scuba divers and winter sports athletes to escort tourists and run courses. Many people gain experience in this manner before starting their own companies. You can research adventure tour companies on the Net. Once you are a part of the world of adventure sports, you will hear of jobs. Mountaineering institutes also offer jobs to guest instructors.
The US-based National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) brings groups of Americans to India and needs qualified escorts for them. To apply, visit www.nols.edu.
In skydiving, there are four licensed levels — A, B, C and D. The ‘A’ licence enables you to skydive anywhere in the world. There are Indian defence courses in skydiving but they do not award the licence and there is little point in doing them. You can learn in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. The courses in the US are the cheapest. Skydive Arizona (www.skydiveaz.com) has a very good reputation.
For mountaineering, there’s no better place to learn than in the Himalayas. The mountaineering institutes in Darjeeling, Uttarkashi and Manali offer basic, advanced, method of instruction (MOI) and search and rescue courses.
It is best to learn white water sports from adventure tour companies. Some of them are run by ace white water athletes. Try Riverwilds (9811297845). The Himachal Tourism rafting course is an inexpensive option (call 9805616345 for details).
The scuba diving courses are the most expensive — starting from Rs 18,000. The Department of Sports and Youth Affairs in some states and some mountaineering institutes offer scholarships but they are meant for underprivileged youngsters. To learn an adventure sport, you need to do the introductory course. The only criterion is medical fitness. But to become a guide or rescuer, you have to be already qualified and participating in the sport at an advanced level. Mountain guide courses are not for freshers. In Switzerland, it takes 10 years to earn a mountain guide qualification.
Most adventure sports can be learned in India. The scuba diving courses in India award certificates that are valid worldwide. Recently, Planet Scuba India has started offering instructor training too.
Yana Bey is a mountaineer and an adventure expert