You’re a working professional and mountaineer. You want to scale the peaks but are constrained by the demands of your work. Years pass by and the passion doesn’t find fulfilment.
Now, an Ahmedabad-based surgeon and mountaineer is showing the way to juggle both worlds. Dr Hemant Leuva and his wife, Dr Surbhi Hemant Leuva, are performing their duties as surgeons while pursuing mountaineering. Surbhi, a chief medical officer with Gujarat Vidyapith, is equally passionate about mountaineering.
Dr Hemant is also a professor of surgery at NHL Municipal Medical College.
This month, Dr Hemant ascended Mt Ama Dablam (6,812 meters) in Nepal. This is no mean feat. Scaling Mt Ama Dablam entails a high degree of technical skills, for it’s one of the most treacherous mountains in the world.
Hemant started his mountaineering journey 10 years back, scheduling his expeditions during official breaks and holidays.
“I know I am going to die in my 70s. After retirement, money and time will be my prime resources. Until then, I want to explore the beautiful peaks across the world,” he tells the Vibes of India.
In April this year, the couple scaled Mt Everest after failing in the first attempt owing to unfavourable conditions. They climbed Mt Labuche (20,000 feet) to prepare themselves before taking another shot at ascending Mt Everest. Their glittering mountaineering portfolio could be gauged from the fact that they successfully ascended Mt Stok Kangri (India), Mt Deo Tibba (India), Mt Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Mt Island Peak (Nepal).
That they battled Covid-19 twice makes the journey even more commendable. Thanks to their healthy lifestyle, not only did they overcome Covid, but they also offered their services to save lives. Steeled by the Covid experience, they pursued their passion for mountaineering with renewed vigour.
In 2011, the couple founded a group of mountain admirers, comprising mostly doctors and medical professionals. The number has risen to 500. They organise expeditions and have created a WhatsApp group for like-minded people.
For Dr Hemant, the lure of mountains is so strong that he did a basic course in rock climbing and has also learnt it at an institute in Manali. Later, he did an advanced mountaineering course at the Nehru Institute, Uttar Kashi (Uttarakhand) to sharpen his skills.
He presents the hard facts for aspiring mountaineers. “The average cost,” he says, “is Rs 30 lakh for one attempt. To get a permit, you must spend 15,000 dollars. You need to cough up another 3,000 to 4,000 dollars for the resources. And a handsome amount of 20,000 dollars goes to agencies.”
The costs aren’t going to discourage him. He’s planning to spend Rs 3 crores in the next three-four years.
As the conversation draws to a close, he refers to the Gujarat government’s policy to provide Rs 15 lakh financial aid for aspiring mountaineers. Meanwhile, he’s focused on helping needy mountaineers to realise their dreams.