An advanced degree in Mountaineering from NIM, active in trekking activities in Sahyadris and Himachal, an active member of Vasai Adventure Club and a Marathon enthusiast, these are the qualifications of this girl from Vasai, a relatively small town on the outskirts of Mumbai.
As every Vasaikar does, she got her first introduction to trekking through Vasai Adventure Club and her treks in Sahyadris. The mountains did their magic and she had fallen in love with them. She did her first trek at Chinchoti waterfalls in 1994.
She has been to most of the forts and mountains in and around Mumbai like Kamandurg, Kaaldurg, Kalsubai, Naaneghat, Lohgadh, Harishchandragadh, Bhimashankar, Ratan gadh, Adsul Pinnacle, Peth, Peb, Raigadh, Rajgadh, Tikona, Torna, Prabalgadh, Kalavantin, Sadhan Valley, Visapur and so on. Recently she has also started actively taking up leadership positions and guiding the youngsters to get to know our mountains better.
YHI (Youth Hostels India) provided her an opportunity to explore the Himalayas and then there was no turning back. Her first YHI trek was Sandakphu Gurdum in November 2009. The diversity in Himalayas, the beauty of forests, the soft feel of the fresh snow and the amazing picturesque views of snow clad Himalayan Mountains ignited the spark of expeditions in her mind.
As rightly been said, opportunity knocks on the door if you seek and soon enough she got her’s. Her first expedition was friendship peak in September 2011 where she joined a crew from Indian railways. She has finished four major expeditions till now and her dream is to touch Kanchenganga’s. She has also completed her formal mountaineering degrees in basic as well as advanced from NIM. These training are very extensive and out of a number of aspirants from all around the country only few can get in and quite few get to the completion.
Her active lifestyle keeps her on her toes and you would find her running marathons around Vasai-Virar and Mumbai when she is not doing any of her Mountaineering activities.
Harshali realized quite early in her career that a 9 to 5 job is not for her. If she must carry her passion then she needs to be her own boss. With this determination, she started with her Life Insurance business and has achieved significant success as well as name. She was in fact awarded the best top 10 in Vasai branch very recently.
Being a younger of the two sisters, she also supports her Mom and Dad with the achievement no less than a son for her proud parents. Their support can’t be underestimated and she has kept her promise to be safe and successful.
While on an expedition, at a height more than 20,000 ft. where there is very less oxygen, where the strongest start feeling giddy and there is this strange feeling that your head might burst at any time, the only motive is to get to the top, to embrace the glory. You are beyond all your pain, your emotions, your fatigue. The heavy backpack on your shoulder does not feel anything and it comes down to a mind game.
It’s your bonding with your fellow mountaineers, it’s your love for the adventure, it’s your instinct to do something different that wins against all the odds. And it’s not easy, it’s the test of steel to literally cling to your goal watch that ethereal beauty, that world beyond all those efforts, that world that very few people get to see and that passion which keeps them going.
The glory, the felicitations are just the formalities and there is no comparison to the feeling that you achieve when you are standing at the top of those unseen peaks, that ultimate beauty, the creation of nature and the feeling is magnanimous and the triumph of the courageous.
People like most of us might even call these as acts of madness to put yourself to the most severe conditions. Fighting with the biting cold, using the food and water sensibly, taking the hard decisions to leave a fellow mountaineer behind, helping each other as much as you can, putting temporary fixes for injuries, but at the same time making sure you maintain your pace while taking care of yourself. There is just you and your mental strength, the zeal to embrace that ultimate glory that helps you get through all those hurdles.
This is when you are yourself. I would call it as the ultimate form of meditation, where there are no masks, your true nature is prevalent and you start understanding yourself more, and when the body has given up, the mind miraculously keeps you safe and inspires you to seek what you had embarked on, for the love of beauty, adventure, you name it.
It takes lot of guts as well as passion to be able to achieve what Harshali has achieved today. She is also a great inspiration for girls, who want to do something very different and leave a mark on the sands of time.
Here are few glimpses of Harsha’ Achievements as a Mountaineer
Nehru Institute of Mountaineering(NIM) Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
- Advanced Mountaneering Course (28 days) with “A” Grade May – June 2016
- Basic Mountaneering Course (28 days) with “A” Grade Oct – Nov 2015
Mt. Friendship Peak (5289 meters) Pir Panjal range, Manali September 2011
Mt. Hanuman Tibba (5990 meters) Pir Panjal range, Manali August 2012
Mt. Yunam (6118 meters) Bharatpur in Manali Leh Highway August 2013
Mt. Menthosa (6443 meters) Second highest peak in Lahual Spiti Himachal August 2015
Sumitted DKD (Draupadi ka Danda) Rambo Rock in 2016 as part of Advanced Degree
Sandakphu-Gurdum with YHI November 2009
Dalhousie with YHI January 2011
Jaisalmer Desert Expedition December 2012
Roopkund Trek May 2017
Being the first lady trekker from Vasai, who have scaled five peaks in a very short period of time, Harshali became a face of the Vasai Heritage Marathon event very recently.