Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dwarfed ?

I often look at mountain climbing as a personal initiative. If I need to climb, I should raise funds to support my climb. My goal, as profound as my wealth..

Larger expeditions often had a mechanism in place for fund raising.

Our expeditions were done at a pittance of a normal Siege strategy expedition.
I recall, we spent 25,000/- Rs for 6 members on Mt Matri in 1987, where-as, a normal expedition budget was around Rs 1, 50,000/-.

The load that we carried to the mountain was also sizably less, almost Alpine style; this dictated the number of porters. The larger the expedition, larger the propaganda, for the same mountain!

Perhaps, it is the way I was groomed, that I hated fund raising. More individualistic approach. Begging for sponsorship to laymen did not suit me.
Why should anyone care, if I went for climbing a mountain; moreover give me funds to appreciate my purely selfish motive i.e to know my potential.

The rationale does not apply to another sport for eg. Cricket. Abundance of wealth and fame, spectators and recognition that follows especially in India, which share 2500 km of Himalaya as a boundary with other countries. We should have had better climbers than other places. The Sportsmen claim, "Climbing is not a sport!"

If there is a gentleman’s game, its Mountain climbing .. few other adventure sports..Not Cricket.

Climbers, I believe, do it with lesser of above ‘spoils’ at a much higher risk.
There is no one to cheer. A higher possibility, that these gentlemen do it for themselves.
Well..perhaps, for recognition that will come eventually with time.
No immediate gain than the satisfied self.
It takes almost a week or two to reach a location, from where the climber can convey his success to his relatives and friends, if he may.

The thought was imbibed in my mind and the core factor that attracted me to this “sport” was adventure, uncertainty and do-it-for yourself motto.
I had lesser importance for success. I could easily be successful on easier peaks.
(Was'nt our 3 man Rudugaira climb, almost a picnic? Well..for the same mountain there have been frostbite cases and even 1 death.)

My actions followed in every venture I took up, well, almost..

..till Prasad invited me to join the Kamet East face expedition in 1997.

Most of my climbing circle dwindled, as my friends got married and I could not find likeminded climbers who preferred Alpinism.
The unclimbed east face of Kamet was indeed a tall challenge, though the attempt would be siege style.
The climbers in the team were well known for tough climbs in Himalayas and Sahyadris. It provoked me for change in my mindset.
It might not be too difficult to ask for funds for a noble cause?

My first fund raising experience was a hell.
I went against all I stood for as I approached a company that built packaging products.
I was introduced to a family , when the proprietor was not at home and got an appointment.
When I sat on the couch, I saw a copy of Atlas shrugged in the bookcase and my fear increased.

It reminded me of the set of values, I set for myself in past and the pinch that I was going against them.

I went into the cabin, anxiety at peak. ‘As long as I believe in the cause, I should be able to speak’, or so I thought.

I sat opposite to him and handed him the copy of KEFE Brochure. As he read, I portrayed him as Ellis Wyatt. Every penny was hard earned.

I stammered and started. This is a Mumbai and Pune Expedition to the highest allowed for climbing mountain in Indian Himalayas.
I mentioned about the proposed route on the face , outlined with Avalanche hazard and briefed about the team, mentioning that this was the largest ever Indian attempt on a face of a renowned Indian mountain of 25000+ altitude.
The cost 5,00,000/-Rs.

He showed some interest in food and equipment details.

Then he looked into my eyes and said, “What is in it for me?”

This was the question I dreaded all my life. He had nailed me on the spot and my thoughts ran back to “Atlas Shrugged”. It was such a easy question that I was ill prepared for.

I babbled .. perhaps we could add his company in the upcoming souvenir, or that we used his packaging equipment..

I knew, I was not being truthful to myself and I had lost.
Further, a better person at talking would have got a larger cheque and I had blown an opportunity too.

He handed me a cheque of Rs 5000/- and said, “You got to be more convincing than that.Try the Chordia’s, for donation". He gave me the contact numbers.

I walked out more relieved, than pleased with a question, Was the cheque given out of pity for my performance? I did not pursue with Chordia's.

From Kamet experience, I realised: if I take money, I am bound to show results.
Success/ Failure reasons..

There is a need for propaganda mechanism that shows an event as success and takeaways for more common lot that feel some level of attachment to be committed to climbing.

It is always easier that I pay for myself, and be free to draw my line of return.

I had just become a pawn in the game, I hated.