By Sauraj Jhingan.
With roughly 120 days to go before climbers from all over the world embark on a climbing journey they have been fantasizing for years, to scale the highest peak in the world – Mt. Everest at approx. – 29,030 feet , I & Samir put our minds & resources together in our small hide out in a corner office of Pune (the Adventure Pulse office) to be a part of this unconventional act which we have aptly titled as the “Mission Everest 2017” . For us, fortunately or unfortunately it’s not the first time we go through the entire cycle of preparing for a climbing expedition like this. The first time being in summer 2015, when Nepal was hit by a deadly Earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on April 25th, which in-turn triggered a massive Avalanche on the Everest Base camp from the mountain across it (Pumori) and ended in a tragic set of events with over 25 climbers losing their lives, leaving over 50 critically injured, forcing over hundreds of Sherpa’s jobless for months to come and putting a question mark on the biggest industry in Nepal – Tourism. This, by far was one of the deadliest avalanches in the history of Mountaineering ever and we by virtue of being on our climbing expedition at that point of time, became an integral part of this event, something that we and the entire climbing fraternity will never forget. More details of our account on ( AVALANCHE 2015 ) .
However, life moves on and so it did for us and for all Mountain climbers around the world. The Everest climbing season of 2016 saw one of the best seasons ever in the History of Everest in the last decade or so with over 400 + successful summits and about 4 casualties , which as compared to 2014 & 2015 which saw zero summits from the South side and over 40 odd casualties, was quite good . The statistics and weather pattern data of Everest climbing season 2016 gave us a lot of hope & courage again to launch our endeavor on Everest for 2017 , and we are sure enough , more determined and optimistic to give it a 200% shot.
Planning an expedition of this scale is like executing a large scale business project. One needs to identify a core team, define timelines, have financial backing (in this case, a lot of it ) , Do a lot of hard work and most importantly have Luck on your side. The way, while starting any big project, one is anxious about putting resources together and getting the wheels moving, I & Samir spend hours every day planning for difference aspects of this mammoth task in front of us. One would imagine that since we are doing it the second time, things may be simpler but that’s not really the case. Most of the things we had put together back in 2015 (especially in terms of equipment & expedition funds ) were either spent or lost in the avalanche , bringing us back to the magical number of zero , or rather even in some negative in our cases . As we put our minds together again for this Mission, I would like to point a few positives and a few negatives of our campaign right now –
- The Nepal government validated our permits for the climbing seasons for 2016 & 2017. Which means for me & Samir, we pay approx. $ 20 K less to the Nepal government as royalty.
- Since we prepared for the expedition the last time, we have a fair idea of how to go about it and accordingly set rational targets for us both in terms of fitness regimes and financial goals.
- Since we spent over a month at base camp the last time around, we would like to believe that we would be better prepared (atleast till camp-II) when we set out for Mission Everest 2017 in next year.
- Since the permit for 2015 climbers is validated only for 2 years ( till 2017) as compared to a 4 year validity for the 2014 climbers , it gives us a very narrow window and leaves us with a limited choice of either attempting it in 2017 or coughing up the princely amount of $ 20 K more for the year after.
- Our personal lives and even professional lives to quite an extent come to a standstill for the second time in two years. A project like of this magnitude requires undivided attention hence making other aspects of our lives suffer.
- The financial burden is a lot more, since we more or less exhausted our list of friends, well-wishers and potential sponsors back in 2015. Raising such large funds, second time in a row in two years is a task at hand.
If we deep dive a little more into the current challenges we face on our upcoming Everest expedition, the top two at this point of time remain “Fund raising “& managing a regular “Fitness regime” with our working schedule’s. In reference to the fund raising, we are looking at raising an ambitious $ 60,000 (about INR 40 lacs ) for two climbers. Raising funds in India for a sport like Mountaineering is particularly difficult, Unless you are playing cricket or fighting an election, you may not get very lucky, However with our experience of raising funds for the 2015 expedition, we are quite optimistic that we will make it happen and will not have sell our car’s, which also surprisingly, we are somewhat prepared for. More details on [CTC – The Cost to Climb].
The other aspect of maintaining a good “fitness regime “ is something which is manageable but still poses a challenge as the number of hours in a day are limited and trying to juggle running a business and travel schedules , it gets a little difficult to dedicate 4-5 hrs everyday towards a strenuous work out , However we are getting there .
As we continue to “Soldier on” with each passing day and swing into action, we hope that the coming few months will prove to be fruitful for our climb next year. Will keep you updated on our progress in the coming few weeks and months.