A good friend of mine, Kuntal Joisher, recently was climbing in the Himalayas and brought along some Climb For Memory action with him.. We at Climb For Memory, decided to take a few moments to sit down with him and learn more about his passion for climbing and why he decided to "climb" for "memory." Tell me a bit about yourself. My name is Kuntal A. Joisher, and I come from a land of billion sparks a.k.a India :-) Anyway, I'm 31, and I live in Mumbai, the financial capital of India. By profession, I'm a Computer Engineer (I've a Bachelors in Computer Engineering, and a Masters in Computer Science from USC, Los Angeles). I work as a General Manager for an IT multinational company based in Mumbai. When I'm not working, you'll mostly find me trekking, climbing, photographing or doing something fun and adventurous!
How did you find out about Climb For Memory? Since past few years I've been regularly following Everest Spring climbing seasons. I tend to follow pretty much all well known agencies (such as PeakFreaks, Alpine Ascents, Adventure Consultants, Mountain Madness, IMG etc) and how their climbers are doing on the mountain. I follow their blogs, dispatches, pictures, videos -- pretty much everything!! I came to know about Climb for Memory when I was going through 2011 pictures on Peak Freaks facebook page. Out of all pictures of that season, one picture that struck me the most was you with the Climb for Memory flag probably near the south summit. Those words "Climb for Memory" had me intrigued about your organization, and in no time I was going through your website and blog!!
What made you want to "climb" for "memory"? 2 things -- Climbing and Memory, both of which I'm very passionate about. Also I'd like to give some context about my situation. Few years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Dementia, at a relatively young age of 50. The doctors mentioned that he probably had Multi-infarct dementia. Over past few years my dad's condition has deteriorated quite bit, and it's to a point where he doesn't even remember or recognize me! It's been a very emotional journey over past few years to see him deteriorate day-by-day and get to this state, and it's very frustrating at the same time that I cannot do anything about it as Dementia as a disease does not have any cure. However, at the same time it's been quite a learning experience just in terms of knowing more about the disease itself, how to come to terms with it, how to deal with it -- basically how to plan your life around it -- so that you can give utmost love and care to your loved one. One of the things I'm very passionate about is to increase awareness about dementia, encourage lifestyle changes to delay the onset of the disease, support dementia cure research in any way possible etc. When I saw your organization Climb for Memory and it's mission, I was like A-ha! this is exactly what I've wanted to do for quite some time i.e. combine both my passions: Climbing and Dementia awareness!!! So basically Climb for Memory is something I would have eventually done independently, but when I saw that your organization already was there and doing great work, I thought why reinvent the wheel? It would be so awesome to work for your organization and pursue my passions. And so I got in touch with you, and since then I've been taking Climb for Memory flags on all of my treks/climbs.
Tell me about your most recent climb with Peak Freaks.
I've always been interested in climbing Mt. Everest. It's the top of the world!! It's my dream to stand on that summit some day. But before I get there, I need to strengthen my mountaineering skills, train hard physically and mentally, get adjusted to the expedition life, figure out how well I acclimatize etc. Peak Freaks have this amazing Everest Training expedition at Mt. Pumori, the idea of which is that you would learn all the necessary skills as part of the trip, and if you do well enough then you could probably start thinking seriously about climbing Mt. Everest as the next step. So I became part of this trip, and let me tell you - even though we didn't summit Mt. Pumori, I learnt quite a bit, both about mountaineering as well as myself. Now I know where I'm lacking, and I have a rough plan in mind as to how gradually over next few months I intend to address my weaknesses, as well as take my strengths to next level.
Whats next on your climbing list? Up next is Chadar Trek (Frozen river trek) in Feb 2012. Just to give you a bit of an idea about this expedition -- The word "Chadar" literally means blanket, basically a blanket of ice, and it is used to refer to the trek along and over the frozen Zanskar River in the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh in India. This trek is undertaken during a small window of 20 days during peak of winter season when the temperatures during the day are around -12C, and during the night go down to around -30C. Basically it's a spectacular, and at times challenging trek across the Zanskar river, with opportunities to savor ancient Buddhist monasteries and remotes villages nestled in the depths of deep gorges and valley's of Trans Zanskar ranges. So yup that's what I would be doing in February of 2012!!
The next one after this would be something big! The trips I'm contemplating at this moment are -- trying to get up to Camp 3 of Mt. Everest, Or climbing Mera Peak (highest trekking peak in Nepal), Or some unexplored high-passes or peaks in the Indian himalayas.