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Mihika Hegde, trekker

This nine-year-old Mumbai girl has been trekking with her parents since she was two. Her parents would often hire porters and she would be carried in a cane basket. But when she was seven, Hegde trekked up to Kala Pathar (18,000ft, Everest Base Camp) with her parents. Last month, the little trekker completed a nine-day stint at an adventure camp at Solang, Manali, where she learnt how to cross a river on a rope pulley, skiing and rappelling. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What did you like at the camp?

Climber: Mihika Hegde abseiling down a rock in Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh.

What do you like best about a trek?

Being out in the open. And knowing I can see lots of animals like bharals (Himalayan wild sheep), mountain asses. I hope to see a panther some day.

What kind of chores are you assigned when you trek with your parents?

I make sure I don’t litter. If there are any plastic or paper wrappers, I either put them in my bag or in my pocket. I collect firewood, sometimes help out in cooking, setting up the tent and laying out the sleeping bags.

Do you know of other nine- year-olds who go on treks?

I have been on six Himalayan treks and many treks through the Sahyadri mountains, but nobody from my class in Mumbai has been on a trek.

Tell us about the Kala Pathar trek.

I was seven and I did that trek without being carried by anyone. It took my parents a little longer than usual to complete it because of me, but otherwise I don’t think it was tough.

What are the three most important things to keep in mind on a trek?

Don’t talk loudly or too much. It can be distracting for other trekkers and can cause accidents. Don’t be overconfident while rock climbing. Look down when you trek up or down a mountain. Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

Is there anything you miss when you go trekking?

I miss TV, video games and my friends. Sometimes I get bored. Mum only allows books on the trek and I guess that is a good way to catch up on my reading.

Sumer Kohli, skier

Cool: Kohli has been on skiing holidays for the past six years.

The best skiing destination in India is...

Gulmarg. The golf course here becomes the practice range for skiers during winters. The quality of snow is top-tier from the skiing point of view. The snow powder is soft and dry, making it perfect to ski here. Best time to be in Gulmarg is from end-December to March-beginning. I would rate Manali second and Auli third.

What makes skiing interesting?

It’s like being on a roller-coaster ride. It’s the thrill you get when you go down a slope on speed.

What other adventure sports have you tried?

Rappelling, kayaking and zorbing. I don’t like kayaking much and zorbing was boring. You just tumble down in a ball.

What is your routine on a ski holiday?

Our trip is usually for three-four days. The first day or two is spent on practising the moves and then on the third day, I get to go on the slopes. Initially, when I was learning, I had to have not just an instructor but a pick-up caddy (someone who picks you up when you fall. Skis are heavy and it is tough to get up on your own) too.

What other sports have you tried on snow or ice?

Snowboarding. I don’t like that much either because your feet are glued to a board and there is not much freedom of movement.

What advice would you give teenagers who want to ski?

Learn when you are young, it is much easier to pick up the moves, and learn from a qualified instructor. And most importantly, a sportsperson takes care of his equipment even if it is rented. When I am in Gulmarg, I make it a point to wax my skis on my own.

The Himalayan Club will host a talk on ‘Adventure Sports are cool’ on 21 June at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.

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