Mountaineer Jogabyasa Bhoi is set to begin a 25-day expedition from June 9 to Mount Indrasan — a 6,221 metre peak
in the Himalayas that is considered the world’s fifth most technically difficult summit to conquer.
He spoke with Jose K Joseph of Orissa POST about the expedition and mountaineering. excerpts from the interview
How did you get initiated into this risky adventure sport?
In my schooldays I used to regularly climb the Tangiri hill near my village. In college I joined the National Cadet Corps and received basic training in mountaineering. I went on to join the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Darjeeling and got further training there.
You have named the expedition ‘Indrasan Cleaning and Climbing Expedition’. What is behind the name?
As the name suggests, we also intend to pick up and remove any garbage we find on the mountain during our climb. That is why we have named it ‘Indrasan Cleaning and Climbing Expedition. The expedition also holds the message of nature conservation.
This is your sixth big expedition. Where were your previous expeditions to?
I have climbed Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, Mount Carstensz and Mount Aconcagua.
Many mountaineers have died on Mount Everest in recent times. Why is this
happening and what was your experience on the mountain like?
Mount Everest is among the toughest expeditions in the world. The climate is rough and unpredictable with avalanches claiming many mountaineers. Earthquakes also take lives of mountaineers. During my climb I, too, was caught in an avalanche and injured my toe. It took me about seven months to recover.
What motivates you to go climbing mountains?
Every expedition is like a spiritual voyage. I am a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. So I always take The Mother’s flag on each expedition and plant it on peaks I conquer. I could say The Mother and Sri Aurobindo motivate me.
Sports such as mountaineering are not as popular as, say, cricket. Should such sports also be promoted the way the government recently did by appointing weightlifter Ravi Kumar as Deputy Superintendent of Police?
Orissa gazette has already included mountaineering as an adventure sport. We hope that in the future the government will give similar recognition to people in adventure sports.
Who are the other members on your team this time?
It is a seven-member team. Two key members are physiotherapist Satyapriya Pradhan and Animesh Sahoo. Animesh is only 17 and the youngest member of the team; he is also our base camp manager. The entire team has completed basic mountaineering training and I have further trained them for Indrasan expedition.
How has your family responded to your taking to adventure sports?
I am from Kalahandi and my father is a teacher. My family is bothered about my safety and was initially against my going into adventure sport. But they went on to support my passion and continue to support me today.
What special care do you take to keep your body fit for such expeditions?
We are giving great importance to yoga and pranayama and practice these daily for more than two hours. It helps maintain body temperature. We also do eight to ten kilometres of speed running to keep fit. At high altitude we imbibe eight to ten litres of water to remain adequately hydrated.
What emergency medical support are you carrying?
We have our physiotherapist; besides, there is also an army officer trained in emergency care at our base camp to offer assistance in case of an emergency.
Is mountaineering an expensive sport? How much are you spending on this expedition and are you getting any sponsor? How do you manage other expeditions?
Mountaineering is expensive. I had to sell four acres of my holding to fund my previous expeditions. This expedition is costing `15 lakh and Orissa Mining Corporation has supported us with `10 lakh. We raised the remaining amount among us.
What is the response of youth to adventure sport like?
Many are passionate about such sport. I have personally trained more than 100 youngsters.
Do you plan to start a training Institute in Orissa?
I do want to start a mountaineering academy in Orissa and have shared what propose with the chief minister. I hope to realise the project in the near future with support from the government.
Do your students like to join the army?
They do; one is preparing for CDS and after the successful completion of Indrasan mission he can directly appear for the main examination and not the preliminary.
What is your message to youngsters?
If you have a strong will and confidence nothing can stop you from succeeding. I say this from experience and that is my message.
Have you received any recognition for your feats?
I won the State Youth Award in 2014 and 2015 in mountaineering sports category.
What next after Indrasan?
I am planning an expedition to Antarctica.