Conquering the Himalayas – a trekker’s take

The magnificent Himalayas have been the ultimate destination for peace, self-actualisation and, of course, adventure.

While many consider these trips to be bold and fascinating, Vivian Sebastian – the first Malayali professional trekker, has a different take on Himalayan treks and expeditions.

According to Vivian, a native of Kottayam – situated in the southern Indian state of Kerala, expeditions require training and more preparations as opposed to treks. This is because most expeditions involve the use of various equipment at higher altitudes.

A certified physiotherapist, mountaineer and fitness trainer, Vivian has also led over 50 teams to the Himalayas. Having spent over three years in and around the region, he resorts to the members of his contact circle to conduct such activities. Interestingly, he was also part of nearly eight rescue operations in the Himalayas.

When asked about the world of Himalayan treks, this is what he had to say:

Initially, I was working with one of India’s most prominent trekking companies as a trek leader-cum-medical in-charge. In 2014, I chose to explore the Himalayas and soon made up my mind to run a venture of my own – Rockhill Himalayan Treks and Expeditions.

In my experience, I believe that a trek or an expedition to the Himalayas is completely different from any other outdoor activity. If you consider yourself to be an apt candidate for a Himalayan expedition after trekking to some of India’s most popular hill-tops, you are mistaken.

There are two factors that play a crucial role during a Himalayan trek or an expedition:

  1. Physical Fitness
  2. Hidden secrets: These are facts that are unique to a person’s personality. An ideal example, in this regard, would be my mother who is 63-years-old. She isn’t very active and does not enjoy walking as much. But she was able to complete a trek up to the Himalayas while some others, who were younger than her, failed to do so.

There are various grades of trekking – starting from 9,000 ft above sea level.

Most trekking organisations fail to look into the medical aspects of the activity. Thus, leading to many unpleasant experiences. I firmly feel that each adventure enthusiast has to stand by the following for a memorable time in the Himalayas:

  1. If you have been diagnosed or are suffered from any medical ailment, inform the team leader about it.
  2. Follow the instructions of the team leader and do not stir away from the path.
  3. It is advisable to trek in groups of not more than 20 people (minimum six people).
  4. Always have a backup plan (for food and other supplies) as well as a plan to be rescued in case of unforeseen circumstances. These journeys are truly unpredictable.
  5. It would be wise to understand more about AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness before setting out on such activities.
  6. Most importantly, do not proceed with the trek unless both your body and mind are willing to do so. It is necessary for one to be strong – both physically and mentally.

Remember – trips to the Himalayas are not leisure activities and one ought to be serious about them. After all, the mountains do not belong to us; the mountains let you walk over them.