There’s no doubt that climbing mountains is a thrilling experience. But climbing a mountain that has never been climbed before is an adventure like no other. I’m on the way to Nepal to be part of the team trying to be the first to climb Burke Khang, a 6,942-meter mountain very close to Mount Everest. And I’m doing it in association with The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) to support the Dobara Poocho (Ask Again) campaign.
Earlier this year, I was able to summit Mount Everest for the sixth time. I stood on the summit with a banner that I had carried with me all the way from Bangalore, India. The banner had the Foundation’s logo and the message #YouAreNotAlone. Without a doubt, it was the most meaningful of my Everest climbs and I still get emotional reading the messages I received, during and after the expedition, from people going through mental health issues.
A month after summiting I had the opportunity to spend some time with Deepika Padukone, TLLLF Founder, as well as Anna Chandy, Chairperson, Dr. Shyam Bhat, Trustee and Aashu Calapa, Director. Sometimes, fate brings remarkable people together to achieve a common goal and the result is just as extraordinary. I believe that’s the case for the people behind the Foundation. In particular, I was struck by Deepika’s kind and down to earth manner. When she talked about helping people with mental health issues, I saw nothing but a genuine desire to help. I was very proud to be involved with such an amazing group of people.
After that meeting, I traveled to Europe to participate in the Paragliding World Cup in Portugal as well as X-Pyr, the hike and fly race across the Pyrenees. I also ran the Berlin marathon on September 25th and two weeks later I ran the Chicago marathon to celebrate the Foundation’s first anniversary on October 10th. That day, the Foundation launched its Dobara Poocho campaign. It urges people to take an active role in reaching out to others (“ask again”) who could be suffering from mental health disorders and to bring mental health into the mainstream conversation.
In the next few days, I’ll be writing about the Burke Khang expedition, why I’m climbing that particular mountain, who I’m climbing with, and the story behind the peak’s name. Summiting an unclimbed mountain will be a unique personal experience. But I know that the real satisfaction comes from doing it to raise awareness about mental health and the Foundation’s Dobara Poocho campaign. Reaching the summit for a higher purpose makes it the perfect adventure.