Eminent summiteers share their experiences at a lecture

He stood at 19,000 feet in the Himalayas when he was only 15. Now a senior citizen, mountaineer and explorer Mandip Singh Soin retains his spirit of adventure yet. He is still in the business of conquering peaks and undertaking exciting expeditions and is motivating others to do so.

Sharing his thoughts in a first-of-its-kind lecture titled “Outdoor Speaker Series” at the Taj Palace Hotel here recently, Mr. Soin said safety was paramount for every mountaineer. “If you cannot climb a summit it does not matter… As far I am concerned acquiring memories is more important than possessions.”

Recalling how he became an avid mountaineer, Mr. Soin says he was smitten by the ‘adventure bug’ while climbing the Himalayas as a youngster. “With a Master’s from St. Stephens’ College, a civil service career was my priority. However, [in] a life-altering decision [that] charted a different path [for me, I became] as an instructor at outdoor schools in Scotland and Wales.”

Ever since he began organising adventure travel, Mr. Soin says people have been entrusting their dreams to him.

An inveterate traveller, Mr. Soin says his rucksack, camera and mountain boots ever remain his faithful companions. “I have added brogues, formal suits, colourful ties and turbans to make presentations in worldwide forums on responsible travel and being good trustees of our planet.”

For 55-year-old Everest-scaler Susan Hunt, climbing the world’s highest mountain was the ultimate dream.

Saluting the Sherpa community for aiding and assisting mountaineers during expeditions fraught with danger, Ms. Hunt said the “stocky Sherpas” were not the “cuddly boys” they were perceived to be, but sturdy, dedicated professionals who are environmentally suited for the job. “A number of summiteers have worked their way [to the tops] of the mountains thanks to these stocky Sherpas.”

She complimented Arunima Sinha, an amputee, for having conquered Mt. Everest on a prosthetic leg. “More and more people are planning expeditions to Mt. Everest. I think anyone who climbs Mt. Everest deserves recognition. It does not matter if they have used oxygen cylinders. Even the earlier climbers had taken all the equipment while climbing Mt. Everest.”

According to journalist-snowboarder-alpinist Apoorva Prasad, 80 per cent of accidents occurred during descent.

He cautioned aspiring mountaineers to first test their skills and endurance level by conquering low-altitude peaks. “It is good to be ambitious but beginners first need to climb small mountains. When I was 21, I was ambitious but not that careful. I fell 30 feet and had bruises all over my body. Over the years, I have learnt a number of things. First, a mountaineer needs to learn cooking. Eating well is important during expeditions. Moreover, living outdoor makes people more self-reliant.”

  • Outdoor Speaker Series stressed on climbing safety, tempering the aspiration

  • I think anyone who climbs the Everest deserves recognition, said Susan Hunt