CHENNAI: Mountains represent the ultimate physical as well as mental challenge to any able-bodied individual. But for a handicapped person to conquer this feat requires indomitable spirit and a lot of guts.
That is what a team, consisting of 14 visually impaired people of varying degrees, and six sighted participants, all trained and mentored by the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSFA), a leading institution for adventure programmes for decades, achieved when they completed the Dayara Bugyal expedition in Uttarkashi, reaching the highest point of 12,000 ft above sea level on October 9.
Says Atul Ranjan Sahay, coordinator of the trek and also Senior Manager, Corporate Sustainability with Tata Steel, and himself partially blind, “I was the only one with any experience of trekking of any kind among the 14 team members. We decided to choose the participants depending on their passion and enthusiasm for this journey, as climbing any summit is not easy and requires a lot of determination and training.”
Asked how they went about the whole exercise, he said, “We started on October 3 and reached the base camp of Kaflon the same day. For the next three days, we underwent extensive training, including walking 8 kilometres every day. We were also told about the dos and don’ts on the mountain.
“According to me, such an activity is more mental than anything. Every day was a new challenge and we were able to overcome all odds and achieve our target.”
Another participant, Pranav Lal, who also had a handicap on his left hand, revealed he wanted to see how far he could go. “I wanted to push myself beyond my comfort zone. Out there, there are no boundaries, just you and nature. Physically and mentally too, it was a big challenge knowing one wrong step could be your last,” he said.
He added the descent was tougher, “Even though both require tremendous concentration and planning, coming down is always harder as your legs do a lot of work and so, you need to be prepared for working hard.”
Atul also said the trainers who came along were extremely important as they acted as guides and motivators. “It’s a big challenge to handle the visually impaired in this situation but they did really well and we owe our success to them,” he said.
Reaching the summit was a triumphant feeling, according to Pranav. “After all that we went through during the trek, reaching the highest point was a completely different feeling,” said Pranav.
A satisfying reward for a truly great achievement!