When others are planning to shape their career with BTech, MBBS and MBA and sitting for major entrance exams, mountaineering seems a little off the edge.
However, often we have seen the beautiful snow-capped peaks and daunting mountains in the movies or documentaries telecasted on various channels.
We also felt a sense of thrill and challenge when we saw mountaineers trying to climb peaks that were almost 5,000 meters above the sea level or battle extreme weather to trek across difficult terrains. But how many of us can envisage our office located atop 5,364 meters which could be wiped off any time by a storm or avalanche. This is exactly the height of South Base Camp of Mount Everest.
However, if you are seriously passionate about trekking, rock climbing and similar adventures then such obstacles and challenges would be easily superseded by the simple joy of standing on top of a snow-capped peak. Still for many of us mountaineering remains more of a hobby or passion rather than a serious professional choice. Although it is quite popular as a sport, it is still hard to define the job roles.
It is not a conventional job and is quite challenging to start a career. Even experienced professionals like Will Gadd, Chris Sharma and Alex Honnold depend on sponsorships to make a living.
They are required to undertake projects at clients’ requirements and submit report, share feedback on gears and other mountaineering equipment, make appearances at shows or events. Like any other professionals, they also have to maintain their profiles on the social media platforms to gain popularity.
Some mountaineers also work for film projects or create documentaries for broadcast channels. The most wonderful experience is living your dream as reality. You can go on the most daunting adventures and visit the incredible places on this planet.
This is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea and only individuals with deep passion and commitment can venture out to make their careers in this industry. In India, some of the common job routes for mountaineers are porters, trek guides, climbing guides, climbing agency owners, government sponsored owners and sponsored athletes. The income varies based on the expertise and experience.
Trek Guides with basic mountaineering skills, knowledge of local landscape and terrain and good communication skills can earn up to Rs.2,000 to Rs.2,500 per day while climbing guides can earn somewhere between Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000 per day.
However, the main problem with any of these options is that they are seasonal in nature. A lot of budding mountaineers prefer to join adventure tour companies where they function as operators initially and escort foreign teams to base camps.
They are primarily responsible for managing travel, food, accommodation and other logistics required during trekking expeditions. However, this is also seasonal in nature and many join them just to have ample free time at their disposal for their own climbing expeditions.
There has been some innovation in the trekking and mountaineering industry like project rockface, which focuses on technical gear manufacturing.
But the domain is still unexplored and there is lot of scope for innovators. There is no doubt that passion and determination are the main elements for a successful career in this industry. However, to become a professional one requires training and guidance.
In India, several institutes provide such courses that aim to impart ethics and technical knowledge to the aspiring mountaineers.
The course is essentially divided into basic and advanced level and one can go onto become a professional instructor after completing both the levels. Some mountaineering institutes in India are Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering, and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
However, how seriously can one consider this field as a viable career option? One interesting aspect is that it is still not explored by many. Sadly, the awareness about the same is still lacking among the corporates and the general public. Mountaineering as a passion is cherished by many individuals though not many would like to take it forward as a profession.
The adventure tour companies are quickly flourishing in India and the lack of trained mountaineers in the country provides a great opportunity.
To become a technical mountain guide, one can fly off to the United States, New Zealand or United Kingdom to gain further qualification.
To qualify as an international mountain guide, candidates must meet the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations guidelines, which is the representative of mountain guide associations from different countries. However, the climbing standards vary from one country to another.
Well, professional mountaineering is far from being a rosy picture of making a living out there in wild. But, there is nothing like chasing after your dreams if it is worth it and with little innovation in approach you can literally go places.
India blooms news service