11 QUESTIONS TO HARSH VAGABOND
Harsh is a climber and solo backpacker based in Ladakh. Harsh came across our socks during his stay in Stok Kangri Base Camp (5000m), when another solo backpacker handed him our Merino Wool Socks. He has been using them ever since.
With many years of experience in mountaineering in the Himalayas, he also chases the dream of climbing Mount Everest in 2020. Read more about him in the interview below!
You are an experienced hiker and mountaineer. But can you tell us a little bit more about you?
I’m a 23-year-old student from Mumbai, India. I studied IT Engineering and planned to pursue an MBA after my graduation. But I didn’t choose the path of taking up a traditional job or starting a business – instead, I dropped the idea and decided to backpack and pursue my dreams. Now I’m a full-time traveler and climber in the Himalayas, training for ascending Mt. Everest – which is my ultimate goal. Maybe someday I will start a business in the outdoor industry in the Himalayas. For the moment, I just want to focus on improving, traveling and climbing.
On Social Media, you are known as “Harsh Vagabond”. Why have you chosen this name?
‘Vagabond’ describes a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job. That defines me best. Also, my real name is Harshvardhan Joshi which is kinda long.
How has your passion for mountaineering started?
I went for a backpacking and trekking trip as a teenager. That was four years ago – and I enjoyed it so much that from then on I’d go to the Himalayas after every semester for a few months. I enrolled in a mountaineering school and did my Basic Mountaineering Course, which made my passion grow even further. Now I’m a certified Mountaineering Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, Skier and sometimes a Mountain Guide.
Do you have any other hobbies, other than hiking and mountaineering?
Yes, I like to travel. I love helping people. I’m really into marketing and I make money through it which helps me financing my travels and climbs. I read a lot of articles, blogs, and books and watch documentaries on the outdoors. I’m also an avid cyclist whenever I’m home and also into swimming sometimes. I also was into watching Netflix at some point, but now I’m traveling most of the time. Therefore, I am on detox from the digital world.
Why is mountaineering so important for you and what do you like the most about it?
The real beauty begins when roads end. Being surrounded by nature is like therapy and mountaineering is my motivator for staying fit. It makes me humble and teaches me life lessons like being out of my comfort zone without any conveniences. It reminds me that I need to take care of my health and also makes me more patient. The experience of mountaineering gives us the joy and rewards of a stunning view which money could never buy. It teaches persistence and gratitude while making us realize why we need to protect the environment. Mountaineering has made me a very optimistic person and it taught me to enjoy the smallest luxuries in life.
Speaking of mountaineering, what has been your greatest challenge and your greatest satisfaction up to date? What are your projects for the future?
I experienced my greatest challenge in Sikkim when I was pursuing the Advanced Mountaineering Course from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute two years ago. We were on a 3-day trek to our training base camp in Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim Himalayas. My backpack was heavy since we had a lot of equipment, some personal clothing, and some additional stuff. I have to admit that I didn’t pack it right at all. My backpack was 30 kgs while I weighed just 48 kgs. It was the toughest trek for me since I was really suffering on the long steep trails and passes with that heavy burden on my shoulders. Furthermore, the training later was rigorous – but it made me stronger.
My greatest satisfaction up to date was finishing five different mountaineering courses from one on the most prestigious institutes in Asia, all with ‘A’ Alfa grades.
My biggest projects for the future are:
- attempting a 7000-meter peak in India in 2019
- attempting to climb to the top of Mt. Everest (8848-meters) from Nepal in Spring 2020
- I also have a lot of other treks and climbs lined up in summer 2019 for exploration and training
Becoming an experienced mountaineer requires a lot of dedication. How did you manage to be at the level where you are now?
I worked since I was 14, and started earning money at a very young age compared to my peers. So I was always independent and had a lot of freedom. I always overachieved – until I entered engineering and life got boring. Traveling made me realize my calling and much more about life. Mountaineering made me even happier and healthier. I kept on enrolling for courses, doing internships and volunteering to improve my profile and I still continue to learn new skills every few months from a different school or different experiences. Right now I am the happiest person I know. I wasn’t born lucky, but I worked for it and sacrificed my academics and corporate career options. But it was all worth it. The most important step and also the difficult one is situated within the brain – you need to let go.
Do you have any advice for our Danish Endurance Community on how to prepare best for a multi-day hiking trip?
Pack light, and go with the flow. Drop the ego and everything will be safer. Use high-quality gear which is lightweight and protects you from harsh conditions, then you will enjoy your trip much more. Invest in good gear and equally in learning outdoor skills. Do your homework before venturing into the wild on your own and most important always respect nature.
After all these years and expeditions, you must have come across several hiking routes. What are the summits/routes, hikers should not absolutely miss in 2019?
Stok Kangri (6153metres) in Ladakh, India since it is a comparatively easy yet thrilling six thousand Mountain.
Kashmir Great Lakes Trek in Jammu & Kashmir, India for its landscape and exceptional beauty
Roopkund in Uttarakhand, India for one of the most beautiful meadows and a sky full of stars
How did you find out about our DANISH ENDURANCE Socks?
I was at Stok Kangri Base Camp at 5,000 meters, where I met a fellow traveler who was going to attempt the summit. Even he was a solo adventurer on a budget trip and I was helping him with some information. He told me that he was studying in Copenhagen and has got some very good socks from a Danish brand named DANISH ENDURANCE.
What do you like the most about our socks and why would you recommend them to other hikers?
They’re made of the best quality of wool I’ve ever come across – Merino wool. They’re the most comfortable socks I’ve ever used. I always save them for the coldest places and most important summit pushes. They’re light, breathable, very warm and yet very comfortable. They also have some cushioning which prevents blisters and the fabric is odorless. Even during hiking days, they keep my feet dry and fresh, unlike other socks.