Lure of the Everest:
Mount Everest has captured the imagination of adventurers for over a century. Summiting the Mount Everest is the highest glory a mountaineer could dream of. A quest so great that only the bravest of the mountaineers dare to pursue knowing that the risks are great and the return is uncertain. The risk and uncertainty lures the adrenaline junkies of a unique kind.
Naresh’s rendezvous with Everest:
Naresh is one such mountaineer with his eye of the highest prize on the land – Everest Summit. He strongly felt the calling when he was on his Everest Base Camp trek, which was his first ever Himalayan trek. From the EBC summit of 18,513 ft Naresh looked at the alluring Everest peak at 29,029 feet and said, ‘one day I will get there’. A claim so tall and unbelievable even to himself as he said it. The climb to the Base camp itself was so taxing that most trekkers were glad to have the experience just ticked off their bucket list with no plans to head back.
The wish would have been long forgotten as an empty claim for most. But Naresh chose to commit himself to this extraordinary challenge. He quit his job and joined a mountaineering course in the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) to prepare for this formidable mission. Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) is the first step towards learning the ropes of mountaineering.
“I learned a lot, had a ton of fun and made some lifelong friends” says Naresh.
Atop Friendship Peak:
He came back from the mountains and initiated his fund collection drive for Everest expedition. “I immaturely believed it would be easy to collect funds. It isn’t. It never was.” Naresh collected a considerable sum but nothing close to what was needed, so he refunded all the collected funds. He decided to use the time till next year to train and improve his skills. He did his Advance Mountaineering course (AMC) from Atal Bihari Vajpayee Mountaineering Institute during this time where they summited Friendship Peak (17,348 ft). While the training challenged him physically and mentally, he finished the course feeling strong and raring to go.
Everest Quest Begins with a thunder:
Next year, Naresh arranged funds through multiple corporate sponsors. It was the year 2015, his date with Everest was hindered by a sudden and violent earth quake in Nepal during April that killed over 9000 people. All expeditions were abandoned. Naresh was in the Everest Base Camp when the quake struck, triggering multiple avalanches and requiring the teams to evacuate immediately.
“The status of the expedition was not known immediately. There was destruction all around. I felt lucky to be alive.”
Naresh, the unstoppable man:
In year 2016, Government of Karnataka had decided to sponsor his expedition and he received the funding just two days before his planned departure. Naresh set off to Nepal feeling strong physically and mentally. The expedition started off well and Naresh was like a kid at the candy store.
But Enroute to the basecamp, Naresh fell sick and had to be evacuated to Kathmandu. At Kathmandu he was diagonosed with Pulonary Edema, a condition caused by heavy fluid in lungs commonly caused by exposure to high altitude. Against the advice of doctors and senior mountaineers, Naresh decided to pursue the expedition. To make up for the lost time Naresh and his sherpa even climbed two camps in a single day. At the second camp, Naresh’s vision got a bit blurry and was diagnosed as snow blindness and was hoped to be cured with some rest.
When it did not, the doctor advised him to get a second opinion at the base in Lukla. The summit window was announced, but Naresh knew he has to go down with the rescue helicopter.
High- Altitude Retinopathy:
At Katmandu, the ophthalmologist declared his condition as high altitude retinopathy. It is a very rare and serious conditions in which the fluids get collected in the nerve of the eye due to the high altitude. Science has not yet understood what causes any of the high altitude sickness. While it is most common among first time trekker, it is not uncommon to see experienced mountaineers be affected by sudden and acute high altitude. The doctor ruled out Naresh going back to the mountains for the season, a decision that Naresh had to accept reluctantly.
The Woman behind his Determination:
Two close calls could have deterred and even defeated many, but not Naresh. Naresh was backed by one strong woman, his Mother. While many moms I know freak out when they knew their son had donated blood as against this lady who wanted her son to finish the mission he had undertaken, no matter what it takes. She told him to try his best at the summit attempt when he was resting to recover from the illness and was undecided about the future of the expedition.
Everest Beckons Again:
Naresh is going to Everest again in 2017. This might be the year that he attains the elusive summit of the world’s tallest peak. Naresh is sparing no efforts in being prepared for the moment he has dreamed for years.
What it takes to Climb Everest:
Naresh had spent over 30 Lakhs of his money till date on the mission and several years of perseverance. His rigorous physical training includes breakthrough trainings like 500 squats, 500 floors of stair climbing etc. His exercises range between uphill running, stair climbing, cross fits, long walks with heavy loads etc.
“Even in the extreme physical training, much of the focus is on training the mind. The idea is to break my mental limitations and store these triumphs in my muscle memory” says Naresh.
“My coach once threw me a challenge to climb Savandurga, Asia’s largest monolithic rock in under 30 mins. The average time taken to do this is between 90 – 120 mins. Deep down neither of us considered the challenge doable. But I took it up and astonished everyone including myself by completing it in 33 mins. I may not have hit the mark, but now I know it is really possible. All these triumphs are extremely helpful on the mountains when the going is tough”
The Persistent Crazy Dreamer
I’ve always known Naresh as the crazy guy who unabashedly wore the borrowed pink chap stick for moisturing his lips, stepped out of his home without a single rupee striving to live with no money for 5 days, striking friendship with the lorry drivers on free rides, asking an hindu monk about his sex life and even breaking into a don’s house and ask for money.
Everest is another crazy dream, a dream that all of us hope he will see come true soon, very soon.