For those with the passion for scaling mountains, the adventure has a whole new meaning. With each summit they conquer, travel becomes more about thinking on their feet and survival techniques that can help them push through in extreme weather conditions. But the adrenaline rush and sense of purpose that hits every time one reaches a summit make climbing an addiction that these travellers can't quite shake off.
The life of a climber, trekker, runner or hiker starts outside borders. In order to find their true limits, they push their boundaries with every new endeavor and in turn, expand their horizons. Sometimes it gets scary or it may also instill doubts but at the same time, it is oh-so-exciting. Doesn’t that sum up life? Life is also an adventure, a foray into the unknown. For many, the very essence of life lies in adventure. Professional alpinist, mountain guide and writer, Tunc Findik shares that perspective about adventure.
Climbing and mountains are my life. I have summited 12 peaks above 8000 m altitude and Mount Everest twice.
He cherishes his journey to the top of the notorious K2 peak, reputably the hardest mountain to trek, as an unforgettable memory.
Having been fascinated by the outdoors, from his early teenage years, Tunc was and is a dedicated hiker and camper. For climbers and alpinists, the euphoria of being out there in the mountains, under the sky and stars, is unparalleled compared to all materialistic pleasures. The remoteness of sun-kissed, snow-capped peaks pulls climbers to summit inexplicably.
Such a solitude one can hardly experience,
says the daredevil Tunc. An unknown, forgotten, far-away mountain peak in an uncharted territory, attracts him. Ardent alpinist Jeff Mercier also refers to old guide books and sets his sights on a remote trekking route. The mountain rescuer began dry tooling when he was 13, and has continued to tighten his grip over the craft for the past 35 years. When he was finally ready to face the mighty mountains, his buddy Korrado Pesce had joined him. Stephanie, his life partner, boosts him up.
Fred Zalokar, a marathon runner by profession, found his true passion in climbing. The unstoppable Fred is off summiting a faraway mountain peak when he is not running 10k marathons. As he says,
I like to keep fit all year round. It keeps me ready for any adventure or challenge at moment’s notice.
Such is the beauty of adventure travel—to discover the undiscovered, to embrace uncertainty, the desire to venture into places that have not yet seen the footsteps of mankind. Passionate climbers are not simply adrenaline junkies; there is a far greater purpose to it almost every time. Some seek spiritual awakening, some climb to feed their curiosity, and others are simply attracted by the calm that the mountains offer.
Aspiring alpinists (and trekkers) should understand that climbing is foremost. Afterall, It is the journey that adds up to the holistic perspective of the world. Climbers often find themselves on the brink, and in the process they don’t just conquer mountains, but also the mountains within themselves. Getting caught in a massive avalanche in July was one of Jeff’s scariest experiences. An experienced climber like him buckled under the wrath of nature. His advice to young guns is
don’t try to go too high too early
and that an avalanche kit is a must-carry. While planning an expedition, beginners should at least know the basics of the equipments and their specific usage for different kinds of climb. Risk Management is an inseparable part of alpinism. Fear is a natural instinct in human beings and a reminder of the possibilities of imminent dangers. According to Tunc,
Provided you are not overcome by fear, it is a good thing,
The trick is to take a step back when the alarm goes off. When asked about his experiences out of the comfort zone, Zalokar says, I like being in places where my surroundings are unfamiliar, where the food is different, and where I don’t speak the language. I find that communicating with a smile and a gesture is really rewarding. The reward, in this case, is the kindness shown by strangers, making us believe that the world, after all, is not a bad place.
Zalokar’s mixed sense of curiosity and wonder fuels him to traverse challenging terrains. His latest adventures were mountain biking around the perimeters of Easter and Moorea islands, besides, sightseeing and wildlife watching in Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and Botswana. Alongside ticking off 133 and above countries, Fred till date could summit five peaks including Mount Cook, Matterhorn, and Chimborazo—this Ecuadorian volcano is actually the highest peak on earth. Yes, we are not mistaken here. If the mountain is measured from the centre of the earth, and not from the sea level, Chimborazo sticks out 7,000 feet further into space in comparison to Mount Everest.
The fire of climbing is ignited early on and burns brighter with each passing day. Passion is a strange thing. It invades your being, breaks you and builds you up, gives you purpose, forces you to find deeper meaning and give up what you once thought of as, indispensable.