UDUPI: The mountains of files on his desk, the exhausting job of tracking down criminals, and his duties of maintaining law and order could not suppress retired police inspector Ganesh PN’s enchantment for the mountain peak glistening in the first rays of dawn. Sitting in his chair in front of his desk, and dressed in khaki, Ganesh had imagined climbing mountains and reaching the summit.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: / Two roads diverged in a wood, / and I—I took the one less travelled by, / And that has made all the difference,” wrote Robert Frost in ‘The Road Not Taken’, which concurs with Ganesh’s choice of either spending the vapid life of a retired government employee or go down the road which is seldom taken by others like him.
The 56-year-old, who hails from Padubidri in Udupi district, is a member of the amateur international adventures club and a Mount Everest summiter.
After conquering a series of peaks, and seeing the snow-capped summits under his feet, Ganesh has now decided to attempt a world record of twin peak expeditions by climbing two 28,000-plus-feet Himalayan peaks in 2023; something nobody has ever attempted before, Ganesh says.
On June 3, 2005, Ganesh stood on top of Mt Everest. Earlier, he had climbed Gurudongmar, Pandim, Balijuri, Nag Tibba, Sundardum, Annapurna base camp, Nanda Kot, Machapuchare, including the peak of Mount Everest (29,028 feet) from the Chinese side for the first time through North Col, the first camp on the mountain itself while coming up via the North Ridge (Tibet).
The former cop told TNSE that his motto is to promote world peace and universal brotherhood through his mountaineering endeavours. On September 1 this year, former Lokayukta of Karnataka Justice Santosh Hegde flagged off Ganesh’s cycling expedition from Bengaluru to Padubidri. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the coastal city of Mangaluru on September 2, 2022, Ganesh wanted to meet the PM to share with him his plans for reaching the twin peaks in 2023. However, the busy schedule of the PM thwarted his plan as he could not meet Modi.
Besides the gear and equipment for mountaineering, Ganesh will carry with him sacred religious books which he will place on the mountain peaks. Along with the texts, he will also hoist the flags of member countries of the United Nations, except for China and Pakistan, to spread the message of universal brotherhood and world peace, especially amid a ceaseless war between Russia and Ukraine.
He will also carry the flags of all the states in India to instil a feeling of unity and communal harmony. He wished that the prime minister had personally handed him the flags of all the UN member nations. He might remember this later with a sigh.
Before embarking on an insurmountable mission of standing atop twin peaks, there should be a cooling-off period which Ganesh said he will not take, and that is another first for such an expedition. ‘‘As per mountaineering norms, if somebody has climbed more than 24,000 feet, a cooling period of around eight months is a must,” he said. He plans to climb Mount Everest (29,028 feet) and also scale the fourth highest mountain peak Mount Lhotse (27,939 feet) in a single season, without an interval of eight months, and so, on paper, he is set to enter the annals of mountaineering history.
Ganesh asserted that his herculean task is also aimed at proving to the world that Indians can beat anyone even when it comes to adventure sports. For a person who is piqued by peaks, the emotional ropes of his family should be the tightest. His wife Sumangala, son Sughosh, and daughter Sagarika always try their best to tell him that what he dreams can be achieved.
Ganesh underwent his basic, advanced training and high altitude courses at SGM Institute, Gangtok. Mountaineering is not tough if someone has a mindset of facing challenges, says Ganesh. ‘‘There were times when I had lost my way while climbing, but I never lost courage. I never regret my decision that I chose this adventure sport. When I embarked on this journey, my dream was just to reach the base camp of Mount Everest, but now, I have realised that the sky’s the limit for a mountaineer,’’ Ganesh says with a smile.
Scaling peaks is an expensive proposition, where success is not guaranteed. Ganesh said that for his first attempt, he had to spend Rs 12 lakh, and Rs 19 lakh for the second. His upcoming adventure would cost him around Rs 50 lakh including food, clothes, and equipment. Apart from sponsorships, his friends T Anand and Shaji Joseph have been giving him financial support for his attempts, he said.