Grit and determination will always get you through, no matter what lies ahead of your journey. And this 33-year-old woman from Delhi has proved this in the best possible way- by cycling and biking through the tough terrains and climbing to the top of the mountains.
Vamini Sethi is on a mission to scale the top 7 summits across the globe. In a heart-warming conversation with Life Beyond Numbers, while sharing her wonderful experiences with us, she says, “There can be nothing more important than inner peace. Keep happiness in your priority list and follow your dreams.”
Being a corporate leader by profession and a mountain lover at heart, managing time is a constant challenge for Vamini. “It is difficult when one has to manage family, job, and passion. You always run out of time and at the end of the day it gets tiring.”
Born in Delhi, Vamini was interested in riding since childhood. Married for 7 years now, she also has a beautiful family who supports her choices and encourages her to follow her dreams. “Life is simple when you are small. You get to do things you like but when you grow up, priorities change and hobbies take a back seat,” she says.
Getting Addicted to the Taste of Mountains
Visiting mountains and interacting with yourself is the best thing that can happen to anybody because this transforms you as a person. “If you have an argument with someone, it is completely up to you whether you want to resolve it or take it to the next level. Inner peace is important no matter what the situation is outside and mountains have taught me a lot about looking at things from a different perspective,” she says.
Vamini was never into sports but that doesn’t mean her fondness for cycling was accidental. Since childhood, she loved to ride which made her confident enough to scale the highest peaks around the world. “Mumbai doesn’t have too many roads fit to ride due to traffic. Highways and flyovers make it more difficult and slowly I started feeling depressed because of that but slowly started shifted my focus from problems to solutions.”
While talking to LBN, she says, “There were times, when I doubted myself. At times, I ask myself that why do I go through so much agony? But at the end of the day, it is momentarily. I completely believe that whatever doesn’t break you, makes you stronger. When you are following your dreams, the route may be bitter at times, but the fruit is always sweet in the end and you can cherish it for a lifetime.”
Adding Happiness to your Priority List
“When you are deprived of things you really love doing, life becomes monotonous. Normally, I get up in the morning, go to work, get stuck in traffic, come back, watch tv and sleep. Over a period of time, it becomes difficult to do this day after day and it is extremely necessary to take out time for yourself and do what you love.”
The journey usually starts at midnight. “A person is always sleep deprived in the extreme weather conditions. You wear the most uncomfortable clothes and shoes. If you want to pee and take down your pants, your bum will freeze. Just imagine the agony!” Vamini says between laughs.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, it is essential that you do it with a stable mind. Only then you will be able to enjoy your life to the fullest.
“One of the reasons I am alive today is because of Sherpa Namkha Lama. While scaling one of the icy peaks, there was a very strong cold wind that almost swept us away but he held me super-tight and ensured that I was safe.” Adding to this she says, “When you are on the verge of dying, you know the value of life. That was a very big lesson for me and it changed my thought process entirely.”
Every Woman is Extraordinary
“No matter what you do, a woman will always be judged. Therefore, it is always better to focus on what you feel is right for yourself,” says Vamini.
She continues. “Every woman is extraordinary and has the capacity to make their life beautiful in their own way. It just needs little courage to step forward and follow your dreams. Once you are disciplined, follow your passion with commitment, that is when the journey really starts.”
On asking whether her family supported her choices, Vamini says, “At first my mother-in-law was skeptical about me going to trips leaving my family behind but now every time I come back home, she wants a trophy.”
In the end, it is always about your choices and one needs to believe in themselves and not doubt their abilities. “We are so much more than we think. You change things around you for your own self,” she adds.
List of Endless Adventures
- 2011- Participated in Firestorm, a mountain cycling competition. After the competition, Vamini met a group of bikers who were all jazzed up. “I was curious to know more about them. They invited me to ride with them and told me about high-end bicycles.”
- 2013 – Participated in one of Asia’s toughest races – the six-day Hero MTB Himalaya.
- 2014- Opted for long distance cycling competitions and her first ride was from Delhi to Panipat. She covered the Manali-Leh route as part of Times Passion Trails, a 10-day ride through some of the highest passes of the world.
- 2015- She won a place in the Limca Book of Records for the longest distance covered by a woman in a foreign country, when she cycled across Sri Lanka.
- 2016- She is the only civilian woman to trek to the Siachen Glacier. The expedition is organized by Indian Army every year. Before getting selected, her application was rejected thrice. That same year, she also started venturing the Western Ghats and took some time off from trekking and climbing.
- 2017- Kicked off her journey of 7 summits – Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa in February, Mt Elbrus in Russia in June and came back from Mt Mera in Nepal, which is her first attempt at 6k+. She also plans to scale Mt Aconcagua in Argentina in December. Further, she enrolled herself in a mountaineering course on “Kalambo” from Nehru Institute of mountaineering.
- 2018- Conquering highest peaks one by one, she plans to scale Mt Everest next.
When climbing from peak to peak, you need both mental and physical fitness. “One has to see how their body will perform in higher altitudes amid thin air. Mentally preparing yourself for the voyage is very crucial.” She continues. “When you come back from the mountains, you have stories to tell; if you die, your stories also dies with you.”
On asking about how she feels while scaling the top peaks of the World? Vamini says, “You are never alone. You always meet people like yourself who you can connect with. Wear a smile always, it will always make your journey better.”