The adventure seekers

Be it a beginner looking to explore nature or a seasoned traveller craving for new challenges, The Karnataka Mountaineering Association caters to every adventure lover

The Karnataka Mountaineering Association organises various adventure activities like  rappelling, trekking and zip-lining.

As he stood at the edge of the cliff, Shashank felt a rush of adrenaline. His body was shivering as he was about to start his maiden rappelling attempt on a huge rock as part of a children’s adventure camp. He clearly remembered the instructions from his team leader, postured accordingly and started his vertical descend down the cliff. With his feet firmly against the rock wall, he felt as if he was walking backwards on the rock. He was jubilant and ready for one more attempt when he safely reached the ground. 

The joy of adventure derived from the camp pushed this 15-year-old to venture a high altitude trek in the mighty Himalayas in later years. Be it a beginner looking to experience the outdoors or a seasoned adventurer wanting to take up new challenges, The Karnataka Mountaineering Association (KMA) caters to each adventure lover, irrespective of his or her age or or socioeconomic status.

Exploring new terrains

Established in 1966, KMA organises activities within the State as well as outside. From organising a trek in the Western Ghats to leading an expedition in the Himalayas, KMA has all the experience, gear and volunteers required to make the trips memorable. That apart, KMA has been organising children’s adventure camps for more than 30 years. The camps are organised twice a year and coincide with school vacations. The children are exposed to various adventure activities like trekking in the tough terrain, rappelling, rock climbing, camping, zip-lining, etc., for four to five days. 

The campsites are carefully chosen based on the activities planned and the safety measures required. Ramanagar, Kodagu in Karnataka, and Manali in Himachal Pradesh are some places where these camps are organised. “Children have a lot of energy and are capable of doing a lot. It is just that they are not exposed and encouraged to explore themselves,” says S Sudhakar, a member of KMA, emphasising the fact that organising children’s camps has been a priority for the association in recent years.

The activities in the camps impart a sense of friendship and respect for their fellow beings. “The camp moulds children into responsible persons. Above all, they get closer to nature,” say Ravi and Shashi from Hassan, who had sent their child to one such camp. Many a time, it so happens that a child after finishing the camp forces her or his parents to join the association’s treks. Also, it acts as a springboard for enthusiasts to achieve more in the realm of adventure. Sathvik, a 15-year-old boy, intends to do an advanced training in adventure activities after being fascinated by what he learnt in a children’s camp. Manvi Rao and Anusha Raj recall their memories of a successful high-altitude expedition in the Western Himalayas which they undertook for the love of adventure that they developed during a children’s camp. There are also children who have enrolled themselves as volunteers and served KMA in the subsequent camps. 

Blessed with nature, Karnataka has many places which can be explored for adventure activities. Before organising trips to new terrains, a team of three to four experienced trekkers explore in detail all the possible routes, available logistics, and assess the safety measures in place. If the place is in the midst of a forest, necessary permission from the forest officials is obtained. They also ensure that the participants follow exercise and fitness activities necessary for the expedition. Then the team is taken on the trek with the help of a local guide, a forest guard or local enthusiasts. Apart from the popular destinations the association also explores new terrains. Some such lesser-known places explored by KMA teams are Merthi Gudda and Ballalarayana Durga in Kalasa-Horanadu area and a few new routes in the Kudremukh region.

Youths, in particular, are attracted to these adventures as a way to maintain fitness – both physical and mental. That is why the number of annual enrollers with the association is increasing steadily. Along with trekkers, birdwatchers and photographers also take part in the expeditions to experience the vast diversity of fauna and flora in the Western Ghats. At times, KMA organises cleaning activities along with trekking, bringing in a sense of satisfaction to the participants.

“Once you get into these activities, the love for nature grows automatically and people get hooked to it,” says Sampath Kumar, a septuagenarian professor who has been trekking with KMA since he joined the association in 2000. There are many volunteers who are associated with KMA since its inception. “I still remember the days when we used to go on a bicycle to distribute pamphlets about KMA activities. Now, I feel proud of the association’s accomplishments and how it has boosted adventure activities in the State,” says K A Lavaraju, a life member. 

High-altitude expeditions 

For the past 10 years, KMA has been organising high-altitude trekking trails in the Himalayas. When leaders are chosen for such expeditions, their previous performance as a volunteer or as a co-leader with experienced members is considered. As an young volunteer Purnima puts it, “Only those who show immense interest and dedication to shoulder the assigned responsibility are selected to lead a team.” 

After each event, the organisers seek the opinion of the participants and plan future activities based on the feedback. People cite many reasons to trek with KMA. For youths, it is a kind of carefully chosen adventure which helps them build camaraderie with the like-minded. 

Nowadays, many join KMA expeditions to take a meaningful break from day-to-day routine at work. The association has been providing a perfect platform for all such experiences at rates which are affordable to people from different sections of the society. Those who join for a trek or any other venture get to learn meticulous planning and execution as well. Many opine that their association with KMA becomes habitual once they get the taste of adventure activities that are safe, hassle-free and enriching. 
 

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