Buy the ticket, take the ride...

- Hunter S. Thompson



Jan 04, 2017

Young, Intrepid and Invincible: A Guide to Dealing with Worrywart Parents

It’s normal: parents worry. As the mother of two fearless children, I am not new to being on the verge of a nervous breakdown while my kids are off doing high-risk activities around the world.


Bonnie Maggio

This article originally appeared in print, in the 2014 Spring issue

In the summer of 2013, my son Callum Strong took part in the British Universities Kayak Expedition. Callum and a team of 4 other gung-ho young kayakers headed off to Pakistan for the summer to tackle some exciting rivers.

Was I worried? You bet!

So, if you are heading off into the great outdoors with your mates on an exciting expedition, here are some tips on how to help your parents survive your adventures:


Chances are that your mates’ parents will be as worried as yours. Put them in touch and help them establish a Mothers’ support group like we did for the BUKE expedition. We reck- oned that keeping in touch with each other would probably be easier than keeping in touch with the team, and if anything went wrong we would be able to join forces to help if required, or at the very least moan to each other or send Valium. (It was called the Mothers’ support group because it seemed to be mostly the Mums who were worried. If the Dads were worrying, they certainly were not letting on…)


The BUKE expedition was initially planned for a part of northern Pakistan where, three weeks before the eventual start-date, the Taliban would kill 9 climbers. Already apprehen- sive about the choice of destination, we were hugely relieved when the team decided to shift the expedition to Ethiopia. It was the comparison by Bonnie Maggio between the two places that made it palatable that they were going to spend the summer exploring the wilds of Ethiopia tackling previously un-kayaked rivers (un-kayaked for a reason one wonders…) whilst brushing shoulders with crocs and hippos. Phew.


Gone are the days when you can take off and be incommunicado for weeks or months on end. I have always said I don’t mind what my kids are up to or if I won’t see them for months on end just as long as they let me know what they are doing and roughly where they are (hint: this works equally well with girlfriends as it does with mothers). Try to communicate often, but spare us the graphic photos and grid references that lead us wide-eyed on google Earth.

Keep it simple. A text along the lines of “still alive and in Ethiopia” works well enough. You can tell us all about it and how scary it was when you are safely at home sitting at the kitchen table having a cup of tea. The exception to this is we do like to know if you injure yourself, in case we need to start saving for unexpected costs. If you end up in hospital with Malaria, please tell your mother (yes, i’m talking to you Callum).


Giving your parents jobs makes them feel less helpless and also minimizes worrying time. During the BUKE expedition, various parents helped out with medical advice, communications updates, and even arrangements for transportation and security on the ground.


While my son was off in the wild, I made the mistake of expressing my anxieties to my own mother. “Now you know how I felt,” she said, reminding me of the 6 weeks she didn’t hear from me when I took off, aged 18, hitchhiking to Turkey with my best friend. Mum very nearly got Interpol to find us. And then there was the time I set off to cross the Atlantic on a yacht with a bunch of friends in less than perfect weather and didn’t get in touch for weeks. Or, the real jewel in the crown of parental torture, the time I decided to go exploring from the Caribbean to the south Pacific on a hand built tiny catamaran with a mad French anthropologist that I hardly knew.

So bear in mind that you may be a parent one day and the likelihood is that the adventure gene will be passed on and you, too, may spend long spells of anxiety whilst your offspring are out there risking life and limb in the pursuit of adventure.


However scared or anxious your parents are, they are most likely still amazingly proud of you and they wouldn’t want it any other way. I know I am, and I look forward to hearing my son’s plans for the next expedition, although I would like for my daughter to get back in one piece from her season in the Alps first! Get out there and have FUN!

This article was part of the Newbie section in Issue 4 of our print magazine.

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Athletes & Explorers

Sep 06, 2018

Getting to the Bottom: What It Took for Priyanka Mangesh Mohite to Climb Everest

Summiting Everest is difficult. However, it’s not all about climbing the mountain itself, especially when you’re 21 and on a budget.



Jahnvi Pananchikal

“How did you do it? But you’re really young!” That was what Priyanka Mangesh Mohite began to hear, when she told people about her successful ascent of the planet’s highest mountain. Mohite climbed Everest when she was 21 years old. As remarkable as the feat itself may be, what is also remarkable is her backstory, and the small circle of people that supported her in a part of the world and in an ecosystem where climbing, especially big mountains, is about much more than about just getting up the peak.

“You feel a question mark [on yourself] when others doubt your abilities.”

When we spoke to Mohite, all we heard was laughter and gratitude while describing repeated trips to the mountains, and the people she respects. She continued to smile even when remembering difficult times of self-doubt and lack of financial support.

Mohite is a young and dedicated climber from Satara, Maharashtra, who got very lucky. She wanted to climb Everest, and had just been selected for a government-supported expedition to the world’s highest mountain. But she needed to raise additional funds to round up her share of the budget. Mohite spent six months visiting every corporate office in her town to pitch potential sponsors. She only had two previous mountaineering expeditions to show on her climbing résumé, which certainly wasn’t enough to help her case, despite her confidence. “You feel a question mark when others doubt your abilities,” she recalls. The experience of repeated rejection forced her to reconsider many times, and she came close to giving up the idea altogether. But she kept at it, and eventually, raised seven lakhs rupees (US$10,000) from several small companies and individuals. Then her parents stepped in to help, giving Mohite the remaining ten lakhs rupees (US$14,000) that she needed. [Ed’s note: Everest is most often climbed with commercial expeditions that charge between US$25,000 to US$50,000 per person].

Photo: Neema Thenduk Sherpa

Given her lack of experience, Mohite was not confident about making it to the expedition. She had completed basic and advanced mountaineering courses at one of India’s several mountaineering institutes, and regularly went rock climbing near her town. Despite the fact that today Everest is a commercially-guided peak, someone planning to climb Everest should ideally have been on at least one 8000m mountain, or several high-altitude peaks in a series of serious expeditions. Mohite had only done two serious climbs before, including one 6500m peak – just about the altitude of Camp 2 on Everest. She wasn’t quite experienced yet.

However, with a strong desire to succeed, Mohite found herself a supporter. Colonel Neeraj Rana, former principal of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was running selections for an Everest expedition they were backing. During training sessions, he noticed how she kept going despite injured knees on a 30km hike. The next day, he took a chance on her, inviting her to join his Everest expedition.

In 2013, Priyanka Mangesh Mohite became the third youngest Indian to climb Everest.

With financial support from parents and a few individuals, and knowing that Colonel Rana trusted her abilities, Mohite embarked on her Everest expedition. In 2013, she became the third youngest Indian to climb Everest. Since then, she’s continued to knock ’em off –  including Lhotse, Elbrus and Kilimanjaro.

Photo: Priyanka Mangesh Mohite

She is not a big fan of groups; others slow her down, she says, and often the expertise of many trip leaders seems questionable. In 2015, after climbing Everest, she went to Menthosa, the second-highest peak in Himachal Pradesh, India. The trip was led by climbers who took a group of 15 people to an advanced camp without checking for incoming weather conditions. The group turned around before the summit due to a huge avalanche, and returned to base camp the next day. Bizarrely, they blamed their lack of success on Mohite, telling her she’d been too slow, with insinuations about her weight.

“It’s hard to go in groups. You should know them; they should be your friends. Plus, you need to feel comfortable following the leader.”

Mohite prefers and respects the disciplined approach and rigorous training methodology of Colonel Rana. They regularly go on expeditions together, along with a couple of Sherpas.  “It’s hard to go in groups. You should know them; they should be your friends. Plus, you need to feel comfortable following the leader. I have that rapport with Colonel Rana,” she says.

Photo: Pemba Sherpa

Mohite feels a certain sense of pride. Her financial troubles are behind her after Everest. Since then, she’s had no more trouble raising sponsors. She met Shriniwas Patil, the former Governor of the Indian state of Sikkim, at an event after her big climb. Patil gave her his personal phone number, telling her to contact him in case she needed help. For her next expedition, she gave him a call, and Patil found sponsors to fund her entire expedition within ten days. This is yet another example that summitting the world’s highest peak despite adequate experience, is often an Indian climber’s escape from financial difficulties, in a country that lacks a healthy ecosystem for outdoor sports.

“I’ve heard Lhotse is very difficult and I really want to climb it.”

When Mohite returned to Everest Base Camp after summiting, she had a chance to speak with her family. Her mother was worried and crying, and her father put her on the speakerphone for everyone to hear. He told his daughter, “I’ll give you anything you want when you come home.” Mohite replied, “I’ve heard Lhotse is very difficult and I really want to climb it. Will you please let me go?” Her entire family burst into laughter. Her mother insisted that she returned home before heading off again on expedition. Mohite simply smiled, dreaming of climbing her next big mountain.


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