I ’m climbing Mt. Rainier this year and I’m doing it in partnership with the Charity Organization Asha. Together, we’re raising money to support educating underprivileged children in India. Any donations towards the cause will go a long way in terms of supporting the kids and (less importantly) motivating me to push myself to do this. Skip to the “How to Donate?” section to make a donation.
“I will come again and conquer you because as a mountain you cannot grow, but as a human, I can.” – Edmund Hillary
Spending time in the outdoors was something that I always claimed to be passionate about. Up until 4-5 years ago, my interactions with nature were mostly passive – I’d go to a National Park or a Nature Reserve, click some pictures, drive to a campsite and camp there for the night.
It was a trip to the Grand Canyon about 5 years ago that changed everything. On a whim, I decided along with a group of friends to hike the Bright Angel Trail and see what was on offer beyond the beaten path. Since I had no experience doing this, I applied and got accepted for a permit for the month of June, which is one of the hottest months in the Canyon area (the temperature was 120 F when we were hiking with zero shade). I also underestimated the importance of packing light and training to carry a backpack for over 10 miles each day. This made the hiking process miserable for me and taught me some really valuable lessons – train appropriately, pack smart and do your research on picking the right time to do a hike. But the most important thing I walked away with after that weekend was that in spite of all the misery, there was this feeling of achievement and satisfaction that stayed with me for the next several days. That’s when I realised I was a type-II fun guy.
Since that trip, I’ve been on several hikes around the country (and some outside). I’ve hiked through the Narrows, the Enchantments, the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu, Half Dome, the Harding Icefield Trail, Berg Lake Trail in Jasper etc., I’ve realized that when I’m hiking and close to nature is when I’m at peace with myself. In spite of being pushed hard mentally and physically, going on a hike is the perfect antidote for the stress that work throws at me and the chaos of living in a city (the pollution, the traffic, the busy-ness). It’s fair to say that what started out as a passive hobby is at this point an addiction and a full-time obsession.
Fast-forward to about 18 months ago, when a group of friends and I were drinking at a bar in Seattle and we were talking about our weekend escapades to the outdoors and how it made us happy, one of us jokingly suggested we should sign up for climbing Rainier. Until that point, Rainier was a mountain that I’d drive up to and go to the visitor center for, it was a mountain I’d photograph from Kerry Park and one that I’d fight for the window seat on an airplane for, so I can take a picture of it from up above. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it, but I signed up anyway because I loved hiking with these friends and even if I didn’t make it to the summit, I’ll have stories from the 4 months of training in preparation for the big climb and all the skills I’d have to learn to do a technical climb. So I signed up for the 2-day Rainier climb with RMI along with 5 other friends.
As part of our training for Rainier, we started loading our backpacks with about 40-50 pounds of climbing gear and took it with us to the top of St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Whitney etc. On the 9th of June, 2016, when it was time to climb Rainier, we were greeted with some terrible weather. The freezing point was about 4000 ft, the winds were north of 50 mph and there were active snow showers on the mountain. So after climbing to 12000 ft, our guides noticed that there was an active avalanche risk on the upper mountain and that we had to turn around and get back to a safe place. As anticlimactic as this was, I realized I wasn’t as disappointed as I expected. The means felt more important that achieving the goal itself. I enjoyed the process last year so much that I’m giving it another go and attempting to summit Rainier again this year. So here I am, back on the training circuit doing it all over again.
Instead of doing the same thing as last year, I’m channeling my passion towards making the society better and the charity organization Asha helps provide a way to do that. I’ll be raising donations to help underprivileged children in India get educated (take a look at some of projects funded by Asha to get a better idea – http://new.ashanet.org/projects-list/?chapter=29&state&status=1&type)
Asha is a secular, non-profit, and an all-volunteer driven organization working towards socio-economic change in India. Their main focus is to empower the marginalized communities through education primarily for women and children.
How can you help?
My goal is to raise minimum of $1000 for Asha and I need the support of my family, friends and co-workers. Your encouragement for my efforts by donating for the cause will be a great motivation. To put expenses into perspective, $20-$30 will fund one month of a child’s education and living expense in India. A 100% of every dollar that you donate goes directly to “Asha for Education”.
How to donate?
You can donate in one of the following ways.
- ‘Donate’ button on the webpage,
- Via http://give for Microsoft employees by selecting “Asha for Education, Seattle Chapter”. Please let me know when you donate so that I can track it.
- A check made to ‘Asha For Education’. Please include ‘Team Asha Climb 2017– Arjun Dasarakothapalli’ in the memo.
What will you get in return?
Besides getting a tax exemption on your donation, you’ll get the satisfaction of having donated towards a child’s education in one of the poorest regions in India.
As a token of appreciation for going out of the way to help with the cause, I will whip up some yummy food for you (or for the sceptic, take you out to a nice meal) if you’re in Seattle and if you’re elsewhere, I’ll find you and I’ll feed you.
Your generosity will go a long way in helping the charity. Thanks a lot for reading.