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Meet the multi-talented Ishani Sawant – a mountain athlete, national level rock climber, adventure sports enthusiast, and an action photographer.
Often the journey seems more interesting than the destination –however, sometimes we wish the journey were shorter and just cannot wait to see the destination. This happens when the destination motivates you every single moment, to infuse all your energies in conquering the peak. This is what makes Ishani Sawant conquer more and more peaks and drives her to climb again and again to quench that mountaineering thirst.
There might be a thin line between one’s passion and interests. What makes one realize one’s own passion is when you are at peace with something, and yet have excitement to chase it like never before. Ishani Sawant, who loved to study law, went to a law school and embarked upon a career in law, only to realize that something was not quite right.
She adds, “When I used to go to courts, the atmosphere was so quarrelsome; cheating, kind of, where people are constantly trying to prove their points by shouting and putting others down. I found this very sad and demotivating. Since I was working as freelance adventure instructor on week ends, I found that the atmosphere there was totally the opposite. Everyone was so excited to come to try the trek/rafting, rappelling, etc. and were even more happy once done. I like this – to spread happiness.”
It was the himalayas that ignited the spark in her to enjoy climbing in its truest form. Motivation came not in the form of a fellow person or a role model but in the form of a mountain for her.
“My inspiration is the mighty Himalayas, who do not ever differentiate between a man or woman and are always there to give us so much knowledge about ourselves when we are there. It’s a great learning experience and humbling too everytime you visit the mountains,” she beams. As they say – when the student is ready, the master appears! In this case, Ishani has had many of her learnings from Himalayas.
It started at an early age of 13, when young Ishani first went to the Himalayas and just fell in love with the whole experience. Ishani recalls, “After my first experience, I started doing high-altitude treks every year, and then rock climbing, mountaineering courses, and other adventure sports. Now I can myself teach these as well!”
Ishani’s journey did not stop there and she went on to explore different courses in adventure sports. She adds, “I completed specialized courses for each adventure sports like BMC, AMC for mountaineering, SPA for climbing instructor, white-water kayaking, paragliding and so many others.”
Also, photography too happened amidst all these! Ishani says, “I love to share my mountain experiences and hence took up photography. I haven’t had any formal training, just followed some books and magazines.”
In adventure sports, the adrenaline rush and the question of funding your expeditions – both strike you in full form. Ishani adds, “Being a girl, taking this up as a career has been difficult. It is also an expensive sport, so I am finding it difficult to fund my adventures. I hardly go to Himalayas considering the huge costs involved in travel and equipment rent.”
Realizing the importance of huge funds, Ishani has come up with many ideas to fund her dreams. With an adventurous goal in mind, she started her website, and she adds, “It is my blog where I share all my adventure experiences and a place to promote active lifestyle.” Here, one can find different posts around categories such as rafting, product reviews, travel tips, adventure sports summits, destinations, etc. She adds, “I do a lot of things to earn money for my adventures and you will find all that on my blog.”
That’s not all, she also runs a firm called, ‘ProEdge’, which specializes in conducting customised adventure events like treks, bike rides, rappelling, rafting, paragliding and camping. She adds, “ProEdge is my startup where I put up adventure events to give people many amazing experiences. We also train cadets in rock climbing and undertook a Navy expedition to unfurl the largest Indian Flag on the highest point in Maharashtra last year.”
And what if everything fails to cover her funds? She confidently adds, “If you really want to do it, you will always find a way. Even if no sponsors come forward, my friends are always there for me. From adventure sports, we learn to be patient, to help the team towards achievement of a goal and so many life-lessons which make you a good human being.” There is something all of us gain even during failure and that is the invaluable learning from real life experience.
Well, Ishani has a piece of advice for those adventure junkies. The expert says, “For climbing, no one can force you, it is upto you. If you have the will-power then you can do it – otherwise we give excuses and it applies to everyone. Now women have started to come outdoors, take it up professionally, own adventure companies but there are hardly any who do it professionally, who are sponsored athletes. Yes, that is very difficult, but things are changing and the future looks bright actually.”
Also from an academic perspective she adds, “The future can be bright if we approach it in right way. We need Indian Companies who are ready to sponsor athletes for their nurture. Currently, we need to go abroad for training as they are up-to-date and the techniques taught are also great.”
If you seriously want to pursue a course in mountaineering, her website has all the information that you are looking for.
Talking about some of her prominent achievements, Ishani says, “I recently represented India at the Women’s International Climbing Meet organized by the British Mountaineering Council, details of which you can read on my website. Also, very recently I solo-climbed Kanamo Peak in the remote Spiti Valley.”
Ishani reveals that she gets excited when she is about to try anything new while doing adventure sports. She adds, “This gives me the kind of adrenaline rush – like I recently did a 6000 m peak, solo and I doubt any girl or even guys attempt these kind of climbs.”
Ishani says, “I love to explore not only mountains but also myself so I keep pushing myself and in that way achieve higher records. I just love climbing and that is sufficient to keep me motivated.”
“I come from a middle-class family, with no business background. My mother has been very supportive in all my endeavours. Vikram mentors me regarding business and my projects and for getting funds and sponsorships too. My goal as adventure professional is to be the best, do as much climbing as possible and also in the near future, start an athlete training and sponsorship institute so that the potential adventure athletes do not burn out inspite of having so much caliber,” concludes Ishani.
Other places you can find Ishani Sawant:
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Images source: Ishani Sawant