Anyone can become a mountaineer, says Arjun Vajpai

Arjun Vajpai/Facebook

Everyone might have a figurative mountain to overcome in their life but Arjun Vajpai decided to take the direct route and climb the world’s highest mountain, the Everest, at the age of 16. Luckily for Arjun, he was surrounded by the right kind of people and could prepare well. The young mountaineer shared advice for those wishing to be on a similar journey and his fitness regime.

“Everybody has to do well when things don’t go their way. It depends on how you identify it and work towards it that makes you a winner,” he says.

Basic fitness the first step

The first step to taking on the mountain, whether it be for a hike or a more ambitious expedition, is maintaining a basic level of fitness. As Arjun puts it, one should be able to run 5km. Playing a sport like basketball or football everyday helps too as muscles get built while getting in some cardio. Arjun repeats the old adage, “The more you practice, the better you get.”

Breath control is essential for explorers, rock climbers or mountaineers. These exercises can be done by anyone and their effect is invaluable, especially for those living in polluted cities. Anyone can practice yoga asanas like pranayama. He does not practice meditation, joking that mediation happens while climbing mountains.

Have a holistic approach

In addition to focusing on cardio exercises, Arjun practices calisthenics and yoga to provide a well-rounded approach to fitness. He goes to the park to practice crossfit and is an avid cyclist. He is not one to hit the gym though, going there only to have a word with his trainers.

For Arjun, a healthy diet is also an important factor in if someone were to take up trekking or the outdoors seriously. He compares the body to an engine and food is its fuel. He recommends one skip milk and eat fruits, greens and carbohydrates.

Road to becoming a mountaineer

An aspiring mountaineer should start with a few basic treks, says Arjun. For those more serious, they can consider enrolling in a basic mountaineering course. India has a wide variety of mountain training institutes, such as the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute or the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering where people can learn at very reasonable rates. As one gets better, they can progress to advanced levels.

Once one has received proper training and is technically sound, an expedition is the next on the cards. Arjun has a word of caution, though. “You have to be technically sound and take care of your plans, knowledge and the people you travel with since the mountains treat everyone equally,” he says.

Surround yourself with the right people

An expedition is a team effort as Arjun points out. For a person to survive for 40 days, several people will play key roles. Down on the ground are several people managing the operation and high up are the Sherpas who risk their lives to help the mountaineer.

Arjun’s heroes are his parents, without whose support none of his achievements would have been possible. “They are my pillars of support and support me in my dreams, even if they are crazy like climbing Mount Everest at 16,” he says.

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