Why your trekking agency doesn’t want you to learn trekking
This blog is a part of our Trekking 101 series, powered by ULTIMATE TREKKER – the Outdoor Leadership Programme for pro trekkers.
The desire to explore our beautiful mountains on foot strikes anybody who has understood the serene beauty they offer. But not everyone can pack a rucksack, put on hiking shoes and set off on one’s own for a trek. Hence, trekking agencies.
Needless to say then, that as India witnesses a spike in the number of trekkers, a consequent spike in the number of trekking companies follows. Trekking companies often help you plan itineraries, rent out equipment, provide guides and portage support, and even provide shelter and food along the way. Making it easier to attempt treks.
However it’s not uncommon to come across tales of unscrupulous service providers and shoddy outdoor travel/sport products that have not only resulted in the waste of consumer resources but have also risked life and safety of unsuspecting buyers.
4Play aims to create awareness about the best practices, specific to the Indian outdoors. And enable you to step out with confidence. By making accessible an ocean of empirical knowledge gathered by the Indian Bear Grylls – Pranav Rawat himself.
Pranav Rawat is a seasoned mountaineer and an ice-climber, with a decade long experience as a summiteer. Pranav is also an UIAA certified Himalayan Mountain Guide and Wilderness First Responder, which makes him an unparalleled expert on climbing and trekking in the Indian Himalayas.
Read on to know how the adventure travel market is cheating consumers, and avoid making the same decisions when procuring services for your next outdoor adventure.
1-Who cares about what you need, anymore?!
Trekking companies often sell to you non-essential services. Agencies utilize porters and guides for carrying provisions for food, like ration, water, gas cylinders etc and add to the overall cost.
Carrying one’s own dehydrated food, right clothing and shelter systems significantly cuts down weight and reduces dependency on others. Simple education about packing right and lightweight equipment can save an average trekker thousands of rupees.
2-Hygiene! What’s that?
Another issue that most seasoned trekkers have faced while starting out, is the state of sleeping bags, mats and tents that these trekking companies rent out. Such equipment is seldom cleaned or washed; and is often laden with bacteria or torn/worn out from repeated usage, reducing its effectiveness. All the reason to make you fall violently ill.
Carrying one’s own equipment is a far better idea. And even in the short run it’ll still be cost effective, compared to cost of gear rentals and the medical bills that ensue every outdoor excursion.
3-Skilled guides, are as real as unicorns
Another issue steps from the employment of ‘unskilled’ guides. They often have little to no knowledge of disciplines as wilderness medicine and first response, or rescue and evacuation in case of emergencies. Even the guiding ratio which ideally should be one guide for every 3-4 trekkers is almost always exceeded in the quest to cut down costs.
Hence, treks in India are always disasters waiting to materialise. In fact the most recent deaths in Indian trekking history, attributable to some of the prominent agencies, were caused by guiding malpractices.
4-Safety equipment is for the frail
Not using proper safety gear is quite a common. Trekking agencies using worn out equipment or not using at all to save time has become almost a standard operating procedure. It’s also common to witness, groups of trekkers trudging along on steep slopes in a single file.; without harnesses and roping up.
Cowboy trekking operators continue running treks in adverse weather conditions for the sake of completion of group cycles. This further poses unnecessary risk to life and limb.
5-Cultural Immersion or Cultural Invasion
But that’s not all. Trekking companies and their ways, bring about significant environmental and cultural damage. They habitually burn trash on pristine high altitude locations, as carrying garbage adds to the overall costs. Fixed camping practices on high altitude meadows destroys the grassy pastures, trampling upon the fragile flora.
Through increased interaction with indigenous mountain communities trekking agencies have permeated micro village economies and have done harm by disturbing the prevalent economic forces.
For instance, in the absence of minimum wages, trekking agencies often employs local villagers at unfair rates given the latter’s low bargaining power. Leading to the exploitation of communities.
The urge to traverse several kilometres through rugged terrain, battling cold and fatigue, only to immerse oneself in the spellbinding views of the lofty peaks is something only trekkers can understand. Some treks need months of physical preparation to even attempt them. While some others are so daunting and technically challenging, that they can be attempted only by pro-trekkers or with the assistance of mountain guides and porter support.
Preparedness and knowledge to face adversity are paramount and is the defining hallmark of a trekkers. Building your awareness and having the essentials skills to trek will only enable you to increase your surviving in the outdoors alone.
The great outdoors is always full of surprises! With its fair share of challenges, risks, and rewards. You never know what may come around the bend.
ULTIMATE TREKKER by Pranav Rawat is an outdoor leadership programme to create awareness about the best practices, specific to the Indian outdoors. And enable you to take on the trails with confidence.
To know more about the program sign up below or write to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “Ultimate Trekker”.
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Author: Pranav Manocha
Pranav is a Nepal earthquake survivor with a flair for marketing. Beginning with a Quote T-Shirt business with a school friend after grade 12, he did his graduation in Literature from the University of Delhi. In his free time he loves reading Camus, trail riding and skinny dipping in rivulets around Manali.