Summing up 2023 and this BLOG

  Dear readers and friends from around the world, who may or may not visit this blog, I have come to a conclusion about my life and hereinafter. And that is to move away from public life altogether as well as from ‘life’ itself as it is normally perceived. This would be the final and concluding post in this blog. I will not take it down; it will remain, all my previous posts but no further posts or updates would be forthcoming, ever. This blog would remain as it is from now on, merely a testimony that such an individual as I indeed existed and had lived a jolly good life. This blog would no more be an indication of my still being alive (as I used to put up at least one post every six months or so to let people know I was still around). And I would be unreachable through all means of social media as well since I have decided to delink myself completely from the worldly world. Almost none of you will hear from me again.    I have reached a crucial juncture in my life, where I have on

Alive & Kicking

 It has been over 6 months since my last post, and if I'm to believe an unfounded hearsay that to many of my friends and followers and fans (if I still have any) my putting up a post at least once in 6 months is a proof of life. It proves that I'm still alive, and adequately dexterous enough in body and mind. So here I am after 6 months and few days.  But hang on, how does this post prove that it is I, who is putting it up. It could be someone else impersonating me or having got hold my blog or directed by me to do so. It's a digital world and anything is possible. Yet, if you must then yes, it's I, here again with nothing in particular wise or otherwise to pronounce.  Where am I right now, if you might ponder, then let me give you few clues. I'm rather close to an ongoing major international conflict area where a war is on and it has the entire world divided and unified, depending on which side you see it from. The country that hosts me in itself is a land of beaut

Head or Heart

  While growing up, my mother had imparted to me one of my life’s foremost lessons. She had said: son, do listen to your head but always follow your heart. This battle between heart and head is an ongoing engagement that would never end. And life would offer you enough dilemmas and doubts to keep feeding this battle. The question is not who will win, but who out of the two, would you allow to win. Either is ok, it’s totally up to you. You decide.   In this adventure called life, I have almost always allowed my heart to win, especially during all those moments that have and continue to define my life. My heart never allowed me to follow a charted path, designed by the society and world at large. Though at times my head would nibble and throw caution upon my path, try to logic that my path was pernicious and full of folly, yet my heart would say keep going. And seldom has my heart been wrong, actually never. Even when I had thought that it was but looking back my life I find that hea

Dreaming Ahead

  I have been often asked, what exactly I do in between my climbs. Those periods of lull when I am neither going up or coming down snow covered slopes in some godforsaken corner of the planet upon a mountain that no one has ever heard of.   My stock answer to that would be nothing much in particular, just my usual. In this post let’s look at what’s my ‘usual’.   Superficially whatever I might be engaged in, internally I am always living in the moment, dreaming and focusing upon what I consider essential for my existence and having fun. These are my fundamental mantra for living that I apply pretty much every day, each moment. Over and above I could be climbing a mountain, traveling around the world, conducting a happiness workshop, lecturing at Harvard, writing, appearing on a TV show, serenading vogue cover model, chasing the bad guys, dancing in a music video, boating down the Amazon in search of anacondas, abseiling down a volcano, taking a leap of faith literally from a bla

Summing Up 2022

  Perhaps with the coming of age or far too many adventures, my memory is getting foggier day by day or rather year by year. 2022 came and went into and out of my life just like any of you and though I vaguely recall doing tons of stuff in 4 continents and around a dozen countries the details escape me. Hence this would be a very short post, highlighting only the highlights so to speak.   I do not remember where or with who I was on last New Year’s Day. Though I was surely somewhere in Europe. And I must have been either in the mountains or in august company of beautiful women. On my birthday I was snow shoe hiking with my sister through the hills (I certainly cannot call them mountains) of Austria and Liechtenstein. We made water from snow, drank tea, thanked each other and had a jolly good time. Thereafter I popped over across the Atlantic and did something that I had never done before. A road trip through the US along with a friend, in which I actually did majority of the drivin

Wild Encounter not so wild

  The other day while talking to a friend, I am not sure how our conversation turned to polar bears and Arctic. My friend wanted to know if I had any close calls with a polar bear, which we often refer as the most dangerous predator on planet. I have had several, I mumbled, but she insisted if any of them were funny. I wondered, funny for whom, me or the bear! That’s a million dollar question. And then it came to me, a really silly wild encounter on a very commonplace evening, what made it funny for me that I wasn’t even trying anything remotely adventurous or risky. It was just the place and the timing and I happened to be at the right place at the wrong time. Here is the story that I related to my friend.   The year might have been 2008 in the middle of January I found myself in a place that only an insane would venture at that time of the year. No need to explain why, to me it seemed rather natural. The place was the capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen. The northernmost airfield i

Returning to my DREAMS

Fifty four years back at the age of 4, standing with my dad beneath a towering deodar, at China Peak (2611m), a well-known view point just above the lacustrine hill town of Nainital, I had seen with my eyes wide open my very first and my biggest dream – to travel the world and climb every mountain. We were there to watch the sun rise from across the Tibetan Plateau.  Nothing had changed in 54 years It was a cold dawn in April, the eastern sky just beginning to turn pink and while my restless eyes flitted around my dad stood silent. As the sky continued to brighten and the endless array of icy peaks to my North started punctuating the horizon, he raised his hand and pointed at Nanda Devi and said – this is the Himalaya, a part of your heritage and it is because of these mountains that you and I and this land exists. My dad was a man of few words. Yet these words drew my attention to the amazing spectacle unfolding right in front.  Slowly the sun rose further and the white summits turned

A walk through Central Balkan, Bulgaria

  I have been climbing and hiking in Bulgaria for over ten years, but always in the Rila and Pirin Ranges and sparsely into Rodopi’s too. It’s a country that I love, though the mountains aren’t high, they are wild and alluring enough for my restless feet. This year I decided to explore some new areas and chanced upon the Central Balkan Range, barely 2 hours by road to the east of Sofia. I realized that it is possible to walk all along the ridge of this range, skipping from one peak to another pretty much in a west to east or reverse axis, and the entire crossing might take around a ten days. As I had only 4/5 days at my disposal (sometimes I am not free due to prior commitments) I decided to explore and traverse the highest part of this ridge – the massif in and around the highest peak of Botev. And what made this trip truly special was that my sister Stefanie was my hiking partner. She is super strong, a true nature and mountain lover, who can match me step for step no matter how chal

Turkey Lycian Way - 5 days of meandering

  Tahtali Dagi as viewed from Beycik Village Lycian Way or Trail, as it is commonly referred to, is Turkey’s longest distance hiking trail of about 540km, beginning at Fethiye and snaking all the way into Antalya. It is divided into several stages, where you can join in or leave at several points if you don’t have the time or inclination to do the trail in its entirety. If you are in good shape, I believe the entire length can be done in 3 to 4 weeks. Most of the trail goes along the coastline and forests. As my main reason to go on this trail was to hike to the summit of the highest peak Tahtali Dagi or Mt Olympos (2365m), I opted to do the stage from Beycik to Goynuk.   Day 1 – I took the morning bus from Antalya main bus station to Kumluca, and got off at the highway near Ulupinar (in front of Kayalar café) and paid 55 TLR. Started off at around 10am. From here on till reaching Beycik mosque, covering a distance of around 9km in 3 hrs, it’s mostly a dry dirt road, with only one

Hidden Mountains of Turkey – Kaçkar Dagi

  Lake Deniz Considering the fact that I travel around the world, specifically looking for peaks towering above 4000m, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that Turkey has an amazing mountain range near the Black Sea, where the highest summit nearly touches 4000m and is referred by the locals as the Turkish Switzerland. This happened just the previous month where I was going to guide an international group to the top of Turkey, aka Mt Ararat, the oft claimed resting place of THE ARK. I have been to Turkey twice before, on both occasions merely leading groups to Ararat and taking a flight out. But this time I had several weeks to spare after Ararat and I pondered if there was any other mountain worth exploring and climbing in Turkey. Google came up promptly with Kaçkar Range. I found one blog by a solo guy and his pictures sealed the deal.   Flowers everywhere  Post Ararat, my climbing partner and friend, Kiki from Greece and I headed for this little known elusive mountain range