For Kuntal Joisher, his whole life played out before him when he, along with other mountaineers, was trapped at Camp 2 of Mt. Everest during the devastating avalanche that swept through the encampment triggered by a massive Earthquake in April, 2015. The near death experience triggered in him a storm of emotions which would change his entire life.
Meet Kuntal A. Joisher, 37 years old, the first Indian Vegan mountaineer, hailing from Mumbai, India. Kuntal, a passionate climber, is as adventurous, dauntless and a risk-taker as they come but there’s more to him than meets the eye. His expeditions to some of the world’s most dangerous mountains are fiercely driven by a profound personal mission as a Vegan champion, Dementia awareness advocate and a Humanitarian inspiration.
“If you have any dreams or passions, the best time to do them is now, not tomorrow, not the day after, not in 60 years when you have all the time and money saved. Now!”
Kuntal started out his career as a Software Engineer, rather an unassuming happy-go-lucky chap, the guy next door, running the nine-to-five rat race. Then one day, Everything changed! Over a chanced trip with his wife in 2009 to Narkanda – a quaint and scenic Himalayan hamlet, in Shimla, while soaking in the beauty of the grandeur of nature and stunning Himalayan panorama, as quoted, “I was finally at peace with myself, and I felt eternal happiness. A state of mind that I had never experienced before. I felt very much alive – I could hear my own breath!!”
After few months, he signed up for a trekking trip to Everest base camp and as they say, the rest was history!
Kuntal’s love for mountains began at a very young age when he would spend most of his summer vacations in the local mountains with his father. Like father, like son, it was their love for the Himalayas, nature and its wilderness that rendered a spiritual bond between the two. Kuntal’s fascination of mountains remained undeterred ever since.
It was in 2009 that Kuntal set out on a dream journey to climb Mt. Everest. With that decision, came a resolution that to be able to climb the top of the world, he had to be in top mental and physical shape. Kuntal enrolled in the Mountaineering course at Patagonia mountaineering school in Chilean Patagonia. Over the next seven years, Kuntal underwent meticulous and detailed preparations, and trained himself to overcome any issues that can occur. Kuntal has been on several expeditions and the most significant till date has been his famous feat, his lifelong Everest dream.
After two aborted climbs to Mt. Everest in 2014 and 2015 due to disastrous natural calamities, on May 19th, 2016, leading a team of 10 strong climbers, Kuntal stood on the summit of Mt. Everest.
“As a Vegan, I have never told anyone of them to become a Vegan, instead my idea is to do spectacular things and inspire them to ask me a question — ‘What do you eat that you can pull off such feats?’”.
In May, 2016, Kuntal broke record and astounded the whole world with not just his Everest expedition but that, the feat was undertaken on a pure Vegan diet!!
Kuntal is an active vegan campaigner and YES! He is your go-to Vegan guru, if you genuinely seek to become a vegan and above all, you ethically stand for Animals rights!
Unbeknown to few, Kuntal was born into a Gujarati family who were vegetarian by religion and so he was raised as one. It was only when he moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to pursue his studies that he learnt about Veganism. Being then exposed to the horrors of dairy and leather industry, and the vicious cycle of animal cruelty involved, he embraced veganism. He donated all his leather and woolen items to a homeless guy living near his place, replaced all his daily use products with vegan versions and quit all non-Vegan food. The transition was instant, although the initial months were a bit of a struggle. What kept him steadfast on his life changing decision was the sufferings, cruelty and killings of billions of animals every year. Through his mountain climbing exploits, he dispels the misconception of Vegan diet and lifestyle. Now a Vegan since 2002, he soars higher on every expedition with a cause – to create awareness about Veganism and Animals rights!
The diet typically comprises of soymilk powder, vegetable stews/curries, fruits, lentils, beans, soups, wheat bread/roti, rice, potatoes, pasta, noodles, red poha, oats, or chickpea omelette, homemade vegan yogurt and LOTS & LOTS of VEGETABLES!
Along with local cuisines, he indulges in comfort food from home — mix of dried fruits and nuts, nutrition bars made out of dates and nuts, Oreo cookies and a few local snacks. After all, we do need them calories!!
Climbing the tallest mountains in the world such as Mt. Everest is undeniably one of the toughest physical challenges. Kuntal undertakes rigorous and extensive training for 6 days a week. The training consists of:
A few typical cardio workouts are: stair climbing 300 floors up and down, running some 20 odd kms, hiking for 18 hours and so on. To achieve a good resting heart rate to target for successful mountain climbing, Kuntal swears by HIIT for which he functions on the app 12MA.
Physical trainings aside, the accomplished mountaineer asserts mental toughness as one of the biggest factors! Scaling the peaks on treacherous snowfield and dense belts of forest, one may get lost, run out of food and water or encounter a whole lot of unforeseen disasters. Most intriguingly, take it from the Master! Kuntal trains himself mentally by going on long and hard treks without drinking any water or eating any food. Isn’t it always better to be safe than sorry? We can’t agree more!!
An inspiration to many a people, Kuntal’s one piece of advice to anyone wanting to take up photography is —- “Photography is an art. It’s not about how fancy your camera is or how expensive your lens is; Photography is all about expressing how you perceive the world.”
For Kuntal Joisher, Photography is life in itself! His love affair with Photography began way back in 1988. From lugging around his gifted Minolta film camera anywhere and everywhere at a young age of eight to being featured in National Geographic online, Getty Images, several magazines and receiving multiple awards, Kuntal shares the beauty of our world, and inspires people to experience it for themselves.
“Go grab a camera and start capturing the magical moments before it’s too late.” The world and its beauty is infinite!