I feel sorry that I have to write this on our website, but I think that it's high time we start talking about these issues publicly and not just within our closed circles. I surely hope that awareness is the only way forward. Well, let me start.
There has been a lot of boom in the Trekking Industry and unlike that of the past, now every other person who has trekked once or twice in the Himalayas opens up a new venture in the Adventure Travel Industry these days, with a few local contact. It works not just as a side income for a few of them but also helps them break the monotony of their corporate life and relieve stress. On the other hand, the volume of trekkers in our Country has also exploded significantly. Unlike in our times or that of our seniors, when only a few people used to venture deep into the Himalayas, now everyone wants to trek.
Please do not get me wrong. We absolutely do not have problems with mushrooming trek companies or loads of trekkers venturing deep into the Himalayas. What we have problems with is the way they do it, their irresponsible money-making ways and unsustainable practices.
Continuing with the current practices, we are very sure that in the near future, our future generations won't be able to enjoy the Himalayas as we do today. Thinking practically, even we actually do not get to experience the Himalayas as the way our brothers or fathers did in the past. No, I am not talking about Global Warming and other menaces deteriorating the forest cover and melting glaciers. That's obviously there, but I am talking about the ruined ambience of trekking deep in the Himalayas. Unwanted noises echoing in the otherwise silent valley, DJ parties, drinking parties, smoking parties, big campfires made for fun, unmanageable big groups, litter all over, cost-saving fixed camps ruining the beautiful sight of the high alpine meadows, etc. Oh, I can go on and on!
Mountains Are Calling And I Must Go...
While in the past we or our seniors ventured respectfully into the mountains, have crafted so many new routes, and showed us not just the way to love but also care for the Himalayas. Nowadays, everyone wants to trek in the Himalayas not but be responsible for their impactful and damaging footprints. People come and go back from the Himalayas without being able to recall the name of the campsites they spent a night in, forget about understanding and respecting local sentiments and culture, or clean up the campsite before they leave, or the trail they pass through. Not knowing how to pack their rucksack well even after doing multiple treks, or learning other nitty-gritty of trekking.
A big bunch of trekkers these days want to answer their call from the Mountains and hence join a huge group and trek like a sheep in a large flock tamed by their leaders. Few of the take pride in doing a SOLO trek by joining a big group. They come with impractical expectations in the remote mountains. They come to socialize, have fun, make noise, party hard, spread litter, act insensibly towards local sentiments, be overdemanding and a lot more things. They finally return to the pseudo society on the internet and share their thrilling adventure experience in the Himalayas, which definitely calls for a lot of attention! All this without even understanding the sport or the place that they went to or slept overnight in. I confidently say so, because to understand the Himalayas, you need silence, solitude, and rawness which comes at a cost and sacrifice. They return back with more of their friends and the vicious cycle continues. Well, top Indian companies have worked too hard to glamorize doing a trek in the Himalayas and they sell it well. Not just that - they take pride in being India's Largest Trek Company, colonizing fixed-camps in the remote Himalayas to lower their operational cost, setting up large toilets in the eco-sensitive zones dumping tons of human waste every year, littering plastic and food waste in huge quantities across the remote and sensitive zones in the Himalayas, etc. Though it's food waste, it's unwanted waste in such regions!
Exactly on the opposite end, we stand with a different belief system, different approach and thought process
We believe that mountaineering is the only sport that you do for your own self and ignores glamourization and media, hence we practice it. Not to prove ourselves to society, but to better ourselves as an individual, and become stronger and humbler with each venture. To get closer to mother Nature by being far away from our comfort zones. To make us reinstate the belief that we human beings are so so very small creatures with reference to the mighty Himalayas and mother Earth. Whoever I am in my World, mountains treat me equally with everyone. Here love means hard work and honest intentions, else you fail and the punishment is severe, might be even death.
Another noteworthy problem is, with a multifold increase in the number of trekkers, there must be companies who should stand up to their demand and make money out of it. This has turned a Specialized SERVICE Sector of ADVENTURE TOURISM into a PRODUCT industry. Yes, trekking tour nowadays has become similar to that of buying potatoes or fish from the market. The cheaper you get, the more it sells. Few companies who actually don't arrange treks by themselves but only sell it to local agencies at a very cheaper rate actually offer cash backs and promo offers turning it into a product-based industry. They depend on extremely large groups because only then they can offer a cheaper price. The bigger the group, the better coz there will be more FUN!
It's just like a fish or vegetable market, the more you buy, the cheaper you get. Lower the quality, more the noise in the market, and cheaper is the price!
This is rather a very big problem in making. This phenomenon is not only degrading the quality of trekking in the Himalayas but people are losing their lives to it as well. The biggest loser of it is the local stakeholders. They are losing their ground either to the big companies who dominate the cost and sell at a much cheaper cost due to their command of social media and other marketing and communication efforts. The problem becomes bigger when few of the local agencies compete with these companies from the cities and offer further cheaper prices. Well, you have to cut corners if you offer unrealistic prices. Hence, news of trekkers not getting proper tents, smelly sleeping bags, and falling sick on or after the trek has become common. Nowadays I think the population of our country has become so large that even the news of trekkers dying on treks due to mismanagement doesn't even cause any rage in the news channel and administration. Only in the year 2021, more than 15 trekkers died on treks due to mismanagement and bad quality guides. We also have witnessed cases of fights between trekkers and agencies on the trek, agencies not having control of who their trekkers are, other company's trekker using their facilities going unnoticed, trekkers hitting guides, guides hitting trekkers, porters running away ditching the group midway, companies not buying proper permits, etc.
Who is the loser in this race ?? Well, good trekkers and ultimately the Himalayas lose in this race and competition
Such are the consequences of this problem that I am having to write about it on our website and put it up in the header as well. Well, our peace too is important in order to serve you well. So here it goes...
WHO SHOULD NOT CHOOSE TO TREK WITH US
- Trekkers looking to travel in big groups with over 12 members. Our maximum group size for the very few fixed departures that we do is 12 members, though we prefer 10. If you are a school/college/organization, there is an exception and you may trek with us in multiple back-to-back batches.
- Indisciplined Adults wanting to be unrealistic Bollywood Stars in the mountains and not abiding by our policies.
- Trekkers looking for organized parties, games, and big campfires on the trek. We won't entertain any such request unless it's for survival. Yes, we will rather help you out if you want us to arrange a special bird-watching guide, a photography expert to assist you on the trek, or a mountaineer to teach you skills of the sport.
- Trekkers looking to smoke up and go wild drinking alcohol on the trek. If we are deceived and we find it, your trek ends right there without any refund.
- Trekkers with a 'know-it-all' attitude and not listening to our Trek Leaders or causing problems to other trekkers in the team. You Should Trek on your own rather, not with a group.
- Trekkers disregarding our Safety Protocol with a 'Chalta Hai' attitude.
- Trekkers who wish to trek in Jeans, Sneakers, and Low-Ankle Sports Shoes. You should be in a shopping mall, not in the mountains.
- Unfit trekkers straight out of the office desk. There are many other companies to serve you biryanis and samosas on the trek. Not us, please.
- Trekkers wanting us to keep a horse for a backup in case they are not willing to walk.
- Trekkers asking the current girl-to-boy ratio in the group before joining.
- We do not fix our camps, trek like a large flock of sheep, etc. These are the practices used by companies to save costs at the expense of Nature. We manage each of our groups very meticulously and cautiously to make it as low impactful as possible. Hence we might not meet your 'Market Price' expectations.
- Most importantly, we arrange fixed departures for only about 1 or 2 treks that too with a limit of not more than 12 trekkers in a batch. Rest we only cater to customized treks for small private groups focusing on experiencing and living a trek rather than just DOING a trek and ticking it off.
We filter our trekkers and not everyone is allowed to trek with our team. We try to form a team of like-minded, hardcore trekkers having respect for the Himalayas, Local Values, Culture, and Religious Practices and possess a humble attitude towards the locals.