MYSURU: After rigorous endurance exercises, they return huffing and puffing. But at the end of it their faces are aglow with a sense of achievement. Is learning mountain climbing as tough as it seems? The answer is yes. The vertical learners say they don’t mind the uphill task. But why do people want to climb mountains? They do it because it is their passion.
These adventure enthusiasts look to their guide D S D Solanki (46), popularly known as Tiger Solanki, for inspiration, motivation, and reach their goal step by step.“Solanki is a visionary, who thought of projects like HOPE-2006, the first-ever congregation of visually challenged tribals and also speech-and-hearing impaired for the Himalayan expedition to Mt Yankar Pass. He has introduced adventure sports to underprivileged people,” says Anand, a trekker who is inspired by Solanki.
Solanki who has motivated hundreds of people so far, has organised more than 60 expeditions, has taken over 1,000 people to the Himalayan ranges in Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir over the past two decades. This apart, he has taken 250 students to Western and Eastern Ghats. He has also taken homemakers and youths who were novices and made them climb summits, some 17,500ft. He brings in seasoned mountaineers to lecture during the course.
“During weekends, we have a strict physical test of climbing Kunti Hills, cycling 40-50 km and prolonged endurance test without hydration for 21 km around Chamundi Hills and a run of 10km on the last stretch, is be followed by medical examination conducted by a medical officer,” says Rashmi, an adventurist.Solanki has worked with many organisations like International Academy of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Almanac International Voluntary Adventure Club and Deccan Mountaineering League. He at presents works in the non-banking finance sector.
“Since I trek and climb mountains, I was asked why I don’t take others. I organised my first public trekking in 1998, but the response was lukewarm. I took seven students in 2001 for a Himalayan expedition, and since then there have been regular expeditions,” he says.“Earlier, setting up camps was not an easy task. We used to travel by trains. Now, with good air connectivity, we plan better. I want to continue trekking till 2023 and later guide youths who want to go on expeditions,” he says.
“I have been going to the mountains since 1988 and I want the youth around here to see the serene beauty and experience peace there,” he says.“Taking women trekkers is quite challenging. We have to prepare them physically and mentally. But they have great endurance and are very enthusiastic,” Solanki says.
Women are proving that nothing is impossible. Shree Chaitra, a homemaker, says, “I have been wanting to climb the Himalayas since childhood and I went on my first expedition this May. A woman’s role does not end in the kitchen. A large number of women should overcome their fear and take up mountain climbing. They should explore new things and acquire new knowledge.” Solanki’s leadership strength is not just good and effective in the mountains, he applies it in other areas of life too. He not only pushes people to challenge themselves, but gives them the tools to do so, say his admirers.
Tiger Solanki was the title given by late A A Khan, co- director of the expedition in Himachal Pradesh. He had said: “Nothing is impossible for Solanki. It is his determination and firm belief that makes the impossible possible.” Since then, adventure teams fondly refer to him as Tiger.
l In 2007, Solanki participated in a mountain biking expedition in high altitude from Leh to Lamayuru as part of 60 years of India Independence.
l In 2009, at the peak of his adventure career, he pedalled from Kullu to South Pullu. It has got a mention in the Limca Book of Records in its 2011 series.
l In 2016, in the first-ever mountaineering expedition for Kannadigas, mostly homemakers and students, he took them to Mt Friendship Peak in Himachal Pradesh.
l In 2017, he took an exclusive batch of 15 young speech-and- hearing impaired to the Himalayas.