I still remember that moment distinctly. It was about 11.30 pm in the night at 27,000 feet. It was -25C and eerily calm for Everest. I saw the head-lamp of a climber in front of me that hadn't moved in few minutes. Finally, I reached this climber. It was Jitesh Modi from my team, a dear friend and someone who I had the privilege to train for Everest, and a freaking physical fitness superman. I'm not going to go into the specifics but Jitesh bhai (as I always call him) had decided to quit and turn around and go home. Only 2000 feet shy of the biggest dream and expedition of his life. Possibly the smartest and the bravest decision on my team. I still remember when he told me few days later - "It seems that you were more dejected by my decision to quit than I myself was". And truly speaking I was. I have never seen anyone train so hard as him, and he was physically far superior than I was. And I couldn't understand why he quit. I was also upset that a dear friend turned around so close to the top. It turned out to be a life saving decision, and he lived to climb another day. I wish more people had the guts to make such decisions.
Since his return from Everest, I have seen an intense fire burn inside this man. He has transformed himself into a super strong climber - not just physically but mentally as well.
And I'm proud to announce that earlier this morning, Jitesh bhai summited Mt. Manaslu - the 8th highest mountain in the world standing tall at almost 27,000 feet. It's his first 8000-er and I am very sure one of many many more to come. I am so so so happy that someone who's mountaineering journey I have had a part to play in is finally getting the success and the summits that he truly deserves. As a mentor, the biggest thing that makes me happy is when my mentee does some kickass stuff, and I'm now excitedly waiting for the day when Jitesh bhai stands on top of the world!