Trek, set, go

Trek is a long, adventurous journey undertaken on foot in areas where common means of transport are generally not ­available. A mere thought of such an expedition gives an adrenaline rush.
Updated on Aug 06, 2013 02:55 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

The lowdown

Trek is a long, adventurous journey undertaken on foot in areas where common means of transport are generally not ­available. A mere thought of such an expedition gives an adrenaline rush. If something like this interests you, then a career as a trekking expert is your calling. A trekking expert is someone who takes people on long arduous journeys, especially to hike through mountainous areas. Good knowledge of the mountains and the surrounding geography is a requisite to become a ­trekking expert. He/she is responsible for the safety and well being of the trekkers. A trek leader ensures that ­everything is ­organised logistically — food, camping ­equipment, medicines, safety gears etc. Trekkers must be ecologically and culturally responsible travellers, and good decision makers — they should be aware of all the routes on complicated treks, time of sunset, sunrise and weather conditions. A typical high ­altitude trek lasts for a minimum six to seven days, which means you will be cut off from the world and all forms of ­communication and be responsible for people you take on treks.

A trek leader’s job is not an ­eight- hour shift. A typical day would be something like this:
6am: Oversee the camp
7.30am: Warm up and stretching session with the team
8am: Brief the team
8.30am - 2pm: Start the journey. Take breaks, share interesting stories and ­information with team
2pm: Reach camp. Engage in tent pitching activity with the trekkers. Have lunch and settle down
5.30pm: Tea followed by briefing. Enquire and look after the trekker’s well being. Solve ­medical/personal issues, if any
7pm: Campfire followed by ­dinner
8pm: Strategise and plan the next day’s trek with the backend support team

The ­payoff
A qualified trek trainer can expect a starting salary of Rs. 20,000 per month. This can go up to Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 40,000 at senior levels

* Sufficient trek experience in varied terrains
* Problem solving, ­proactiveness, being a team player are some of the key traits
* Knowledge of first aid is ­mandatory
* He/she should be familiar with the mountains and the ­surrounding geography

Getting there
A basic mountaineering course is important. The courses have four to five levels — basic, advanced, method of instruction and search and rescue. These courses are generally a month long. They include both theory and practical training on the mountains. You don’t need to have a formal degree but ­institutes consider your age limit for these courses. Also, a ­prescribed level of ­physical ­fitness is required. An ‘A’ grade in one course qualifies the student for the next course

Institutes and URLs
* Nehru Institute Of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi;
* Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling;
* Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali;
* Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, Gulmarg;

Pros and cons
* For someone who loves the outdoors, trek leading is a treat
* Your decisions play a crucial role. If one thing goes wrong, it can impact life and safety of people
* You are away from family and friends for a long period of time

Trekking rejuvenates one’s mind, body and spirit. But you have to face various physical and mental challenges. In short, a trek is a miniature journey of life ---- Sandhya UC, a trekker and partner at Indiahikes, Bangalore

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