For Ashish Pradhan, it all began nearly 30 years ago. What started as a fun activity with college friends in the Sahyadris of the Western Ghats has transformed into his passion and it's the sense of achievement, that keeps taking the CEO of Siegwerk back, each time to a tougher challenge. “The hobby remains, but the purpose changes,” he says, sitting down for a quick chat on his love for trekking.
His latest and most challenging trek till date, to Mt. Kilimanjaro left him humbled. "It was heartbreaking to give up just 30 minutes from the destination after trekking for close to eight days. My body wasn’t able to take it anymore,” he recalls. Due to altitude sickness, his partner for the trek fell ill and had to be rescued mid-way. An undeterred Pradhan decided to continue his trek, but it wasn't to be. "I experienced altitude sickness as well, after reaching Stella Point, just around 200 metres away from the highest point, Uhuru peak. However, his experience taught him important lessons, those of emotional resilience and delayed gratification. “When you grow in the same organisation for years, you eventually become a strategist from an implementer. Activities like trekking help you go back to the implementer mode when you are looking to hit the target and reach your destination,” he says.
Pradhan follows a regular fitness regime and runs 5 kilometres thrice a week, also taking the stairs to the 20th floor of his building. “It forces you to remain fit which is important to be successful in corporate life,” he explains. "Trekking is like meditation, it calms me down. After reaching camp in the evening, the time you have to yourself helps you introspect," he adds. So far, he has completed 12 treks, including the gruelling Mt. Everest base camp in 2016. He plans these treks in alternate years, with one major trek and a small one. Other treks that he has successfully completed include several in the Alps of Europe and the Garhwal region in the Himalayan range. For his next summit, he has his eyes on Stok Kangri in Ladakh.