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Home > Mumbai Guide News > Things To Do News > Article > Comedian Aditi Mittal shares with us experience of her latest mountaineering expedition

Comedian Aditi Mittal shares with us experience of her latest mountaineering expedition

Updated on: 24 May,2023 08:20 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shriram Iyengar |

Pumped up by her recent visit to Mount Everest base camp, city-based comedian Aditi Mittal shares with us the learning from her latest mountaineering expedition

Comedian Aditi Mittal shares with us experience of her latest mountaineering expedition

Aditi Mittal with the group at base camp. Pics Courtesy/Aditi Mittal

Every time this writer has found himself flustered and out of breath on a trek or hike, we have cursed novelist Jack Kerouac’s command — ‘Climb that mountain’. Stand-up comic Aditi Mittal certainly identifies with that struggle. Her recent trip to the foot of the tallest mountain in the world, Everest peak, began on a whim, but “It has been the experience of a lifetime,” she exclaims over a call.

The expedition

The journey began on May 4 when Mittal left from Mumbai for Kathmandu. “There were seven of us in the group, with two trek leaders. Actor-director JD Majethia was on the trip with us as well,” she shares. It all started when Mittal’s fitness trainer shared a wish to visit Everest base camp. On a whim, the comedian agreed to join her. “As it went, my trainer could not make it because of work commitments, and I ended up taking the trip,” she laughs. It took the team 16 days in total; from Lukla to base camp, and back.

Mittal on her way to camp
Mittal on her way to camp

The preparation

While the decision to go was taken on a whim, Mittal reveals that it spurred her on. “I took the preparation seriously. People kept telling me it is not that challenging, and that the failure rate on this trek is only four per cent. Ridiculous!” she remarks. Her preparation, which began in late March, included three days of weight training followed by cardio-heavy exercises. To combat the low oxygen at the high altitude, Mittal chose to train using altitude masks. “Although they make you sound like Bane, they proved so helpful,” she jokes.

While the Mumbaikar admits that her trainers did not suggest any special dietary regimen, she adopted a protein-heavy approach. Another helpful tip was packing as much insular wear for the trip as she could. “We, Mumbaikars, don’t wear fleece jackets, gloves and downy coats. I kept wondering if I’d ever use these. By the time we got to Gorakh Shep [the final stop before base camp], it was -14 degrees.”

In thin air

All that preparation fell short in front of the real challenge. There were seven stops along the route, including one whole day at the third and sixth stop to acclimatise to the weather. The oxygen levels tend to be so low that any little activity can cause a headache, Mittal warns. “Also, you are not allowed to close the tent up completely. The oxygen is so thin that the carbon dioxide you breathe out while sleeping could kill you without ventilation. Such warnings should be mentioned in a manual,” she remarks in her trademark humour.

Mittal at Namche pass (right) The path to the base camp
Mittal at Namche pass (right) The path to the base camp

Add this to long distances — eight miles every day — and you can picture the struggle. “But trek leaders won’t let you rest too long because your body would then cool down. It takes a lot more energy to stop-start the walk than it does to keep going,” she shares her newfound knowledge. There are also suspension bridges hanging miles above fast flowing river waters. “I was lucky I had sunglasses that prevented others from seeing me cry,” she admits.

Just keep going

But how does one keep going, we ask. “You cannot give up half-way and return. The trek back is a nightmare,” she explains. There are alternatives such as a helicopter pick-up and horses, but only in case of emergency situations are these options deployed. It is a battle of mental rather than physical endurance, she says, noting, “You learn patience and also discover your own strength.”

Food wins it all

The one thing Mittal does not complain about is the food throughout the expedition. Fresh and simple, the food surprised her. “I was hoping to lose weight. I ended up gaining,” she says. The simple Sherpa fuel of dal-bhaat was enough to keep the team going. The trick is to keep it simple on the trek. “You are advised to avoid eating heavy fuel in case altitude sickness hits you. Then, throwing up becomes more difficult and draining. So the best food is porridge or dal-bhaat,” she reveals. Another popular preparation was the Sherpa stew. A stew of assorted vegetables with chicken, it was a warm filling meal after any trek.”

Life lessons

Despite the challenges, Mittal is thrilled by her decision to go for the trip. “I would recommend it to anyone who asks. Go. You learn so much. You know, we could see water marks at the top of the highest peaks. The sherpas told us how once all these peaks, thousands of metres above sea level, were under the sea. Isn’t that something?” Mittal signs off.

Mittal’s one month routine

Training in Mumbai
Training in Mumbai

>> Three days of cardio (per week)
>> Three days of weight training (per week) 
>> Use of altitude mask
>> Protein overload in diet with six egg whites every day

Expert tips

>> Try medium level treks or one-day treks at the Sahyadris as preparation. 
>> Focus on cardiovascular activity and other kinds of breathing exercises 
>> Build endurance and lung capacity through yoga 
>> Do not miss acclimatisation. It is crucial to give your body a chance to adapt to the conditions

Digvijay Rathore, trek leader, Mischief Treks

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