Asvin Mandadi

An Interview with Asvin. He has now taken on more a mentored role, guiding and encouraging the new leaders and volunteers.

1. Tell us a bit about how you got involved with Asha.
I go to know Asha from one of our volunteers, Sridhar Dhandapantula and was introduced to the Seattle to Portland (STP) bike program back in 2016. So that was the first introduction to not just the bike ride but also to the purpose which is raise funds for a good organization that is helping people in India.

2. How did you come to know about the climbing program?
Three of us who were in the biking program wanted do something together. And through an information session hosted by Asha, we were all geared up and really enthusiastic about joining the climbing program. I signed up in 2018. Of the three objectives at the time, I got into Mount Baker program.

3. What do you do for work?
I’m a civil engineer by profession and I’m a project manager, it is a desk job where I manage projects for the Washington state DOT, one of the clients, the company I work for is Jacobs in Bellevue.

4. What motivates you to go outside?
Ever since I moved to Seattle, the idea of being outdoors, stuck with me because of the nature that surrounds us. You’ve got mountains on one side, you’ve got the lake and then the ocean on the other side. In 2006 when I moved to Seattle, I was introduced to camping for the first time in my life and I bought a Coleman tent from Walmart and the experience was phenomenal, but it was horrible when it came to the choice of equipment and the weather condition. We had no idea what we were going for, we just went for it. And the whole tent was wet and we were miserable. And it dawned on me that yeah, I love the outdoors, but we need to be geared up correctly to enjoy it well. After that I’ve driven quite a bit, around Puget sound area, into the Northern cascades, to Portland to south of Portland. I have seen all the mountain ranges and visualized them. I fell in love with nature in general, just taking a walk, taking a hike and really started enjoying them.
Then I introduced to what we call them death marches. My first hike through that was the Cumberland gap and the panhandle. It was a 14 mile hike, the longest one I’ve ever done. And it was like, wow, I can do this, this is nice. And so I hung out with them and I got introduced to longer hikes and more locations to explore. After that I did Mt St Helens all of a sudden which I was able to summit. So that inspired me that it’s not just these long hikes but I can even climb mountains. It stuck with me and I started to do smaller things around the neighborhood, you know, Poopoo point, Mt Si and a few others like granite mountain, those that are accessible. So in general, my comfort level is to stay on the ground with my two feet, not fly, not swim or be in water. I enjoy walking, and hiking. So that is what takes me outdoors. Camping didn’t stick with me much tho’.
Backcountry camping is not something I have done much. But I would like to try it. It extends the range of how far I can go, since I don’t have to worry about returning the same day. May be try PCT, or Rim to Rim in Grand Canyon some day.

5. You joined Asha program for STP, then came back, trained and did some serious climbs and now you are volunteering. So what was that experience like for you?
I think there are two things I can say. One is that I really didn’t think that I was a leader among them but I knew that I could learn along with the new people. It helped me continue my training for the next mountain that I wanted to climb even though I hadn’t signed up yet. It was really a good experience for me. I was also learning from these new people who come, they come with varying backgrounds, diverse knowledge, and the passion to climb. I enjoy that.

6. What does adventure mean to you?
Adventure to me is to start to know the unknown. But be safe, don’t just jump off a cliff and say, I don’t care where I land. It really is to explore the unknown in a safe way.

8. Do you have a favorite place to go outdoors in the PNW?
Truly speaking, the best place that I felt in my whole experience in the last few years is when we went up to Mt Shuksan and we had to camp, at a pretty level place at about 5,000 feet. We set up our tents and were greeted by this spectacular and unforgettable vista of Mt Baker when we woke up. Nothing else could beat that view.

9. So what’s next for you?
I want to climb two more volcanoes and I would like to do Mount Rainier next year. So I’ll be 49 next year and I want to do something big when I’m 50. Kilimanjaro, Everest base camp or even Machu Picchu come to mind. These are the three that are on my bucket list for 50.

10. What has been your best learning experience throughout with Asha and also while volunteering with them?
I think the best learning I got was when we were learning the Crevasse Rescue skills (only practiced with volunteers who are intended to take on Mountaineering in the future). I mean that was truly learning in my opinion. I mean, sitting in a class and listening to something is one thing. Practicing in real life is completely different. And then when we went up on the mountain with Ashish  Rawat and actually practiced it, that was a great learning experience. Another thing to practice would be self-ascend from a crevasse.

11. What is your key message that you want to share with the new climbers next year?
Number one is passion for the outdoors and climbing. And if you have that passion, nothing will stop you from exploring and being adventurous.

Time for our Lightning Round
1. Snow or Rock: Snow
2. Your 11th essential that you always bring on all your hikes/climbs: Emergency Blanket
3. One outdoor activity you would like to excel at: Running at less than 8 min per mile