Please the adventure junkie in you at IITR

The internet is filled with articles, photographs, and
videos of must-visit places for adventure enthusiasts. Some people scroll down
to ignore the content, some people add it to their wish list, and some can’t
help but live it through photos and videos only.  But IIT Roorkee (IITR) encourages its students
go to on trips which include trekking, rafting, rock climbing, para gliding
etc., and accomplish their adventure dreams to the fullest.

The Mountaineering and Trekking Club, founded in 1971, was
the forerunner of the present Himalayan Explorers’ Club (HEC) at IITR. One of
the perks of studying at IIT Rookree is students get a chance to explore the
Himalayas, and undergo certification in ‘Confidence Assault Training’ (CAT).  CAT is a commando training programme, where a
typical obstacle course involves obstacles like the Burma Bridge, Tunnel Crawl,
Rope Ladders etc.

HEC’s Chief Advisor, Ajay Wasan, said, “Five years back,
when I was selected as the Chief Advisor, I was surprised that my colleagues
asked me to rethink the job. Their main concern was that if any accident took
place, I would be blamed. But my father encouraged me, saying ‘90% of all people
die on their beds, but does this stop people from sleeping?’”

He added, “Youngsters from around the world, 15-16 years of
age, are coming to India to climb the Himalayas, and here we are, worrying if
our children will be able to cross the road. We want to disprove this thinking.”

HEC organizes around 25-30 treks every year, and is one of
the most active clubs at IITR. The club organizes short treks ranging between
28-30 km and long treks covering 50-60 km at a stretch. They also have a tie-up
with the Nainital Mountaineering Club for certificate courses. They also organize
in-campus events. Different treks are organized for boys and girls, and some
activities are combined, like river rafting. Generally, boys cans go alone on treks
but girls are always accompanied by a faculty member.

HEC organizes these treks over the weekend and long holidays
only, as participants are not allowed to skip lectures. For all activities,
they require permission from the director, student welfare dean, staff advisor,
and the general secretary. For some treks, HEC also takes consent from the
students’ parents.

Many students want to participant in a trek but not all qualify
to join. They need to clear a conditioning camp. At the conditioning camp,
their stamina is checked, where most students fail. IITR accommodates around
10,000 students across all years and programmes but on an average only 1,000
students go for treks every year.

The institute is in constant touch with the forest
department to know which areas are safe for camping. They also know which
hotels can accommodate how many students on the trek route.

HEC organizes events only for IITR students. The institute funds
the tents, sleeping bags, trekking equipment etc. Students pay a minimal amount
for club activities, which is usually the estimated cost they will incur, depending
on locations and type of treks. The institute also subsidizes the individual’s
expenses for the trek. Hence, the HEC can provide a three day trek for as low
as Rs. 1,000 only. The amount of subsidy is based on the actual expense; higher
the cost, more the subsidy.

Prof D.K. Nauriyal, Dean of Student Welfare at IITR, said,
“It is a unique experience for students. We have been managing it well, because
till date not even a single accident has been reported. With this distinctive
initiative, we now have an enviable collection of photos and documentaries of
the Himalayas.”

Tejas Vashishtha, a third year Metallurgical and Materials
engineering student at IITR, expressed his views about the club. He shared, “I
tried out rock climbing in my second year. I enjoyed staying in a tent, singing
around the bonfire, and dancing with friends. Since then I have been addicted
to the HEC.”

One of the Joint Secretaries of HEC and a third year Civil
engineering student, Dheeraj Adwani, said, “I try to attend a majority of
treks. Between my second and third year, I completed 11 treks. In November
2015, eight of us went for a trek to Yamunotri. One person fell sick at the
base camp, so he stayed back. Then midway, three people fell sick, and only
four of us completed the trek. As the Team Leader, it became really difficult
for me to encourage everyone to keep moving on.”

Aayushi Garg, one of the secretaries for the club, shared her
Dashaur Lake trek experience. She said, “We planned two treks, but due to heavy
rains only one could be completed. We stayed in our tents and waited for the
rain to stop. Unfortunately, it did not and we had to improvise. We then took
the group to a nearby waterfall.” She continued, “It is an experience of a
lifetime. My parents agreed reluctantly for my first trek but now they have
made peace with my passion to travel.” Parents get worried because in some
areas network connectivity is very poor and it gets impossible for them to get
in touch with their children. 

Adwani adds, “While organizing a trek, we get quite engrossed.
This includes transport, location, number of participants, food stock for the
complete duration, medicinal requirements and all the other things that go into
a trek. We manage everything on our own. The learnings we get from organizing the
treks and the joy of being one with nature are unmatchable.”