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Adventure duo head for US
- Gupta & Tolia of TSAF upbeat about 3-month training

Experience counts.

Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) will soon find that out when two of its members go for a three-month training to the US.

The foundation’s manager Hemant Gupta (24) and instructor Sandeep Tolia (37) will be off to New York via New Delhi on February 15 for the adrenaline-pumping stint that will be conducted by National Outdoor Leadership School from February 17. The training will kick off from the base camp at Lander, the US.

The leadership school invites people on wilderness expeditions to impart leadership qualities, outdoor skills and environmental ethics. The trainings are usually organised in some of the world’s most breathtaking locations.

This three-month stint in difficult terrain and chilling conditions will not only help the two TSAF staffers enrich their knowledge, but will provide a new dimension to the local and outdoor leadership courses undertaken by the adventure outfit.

Gupta and Tolia’s experience will hopefully help TSAF set new benchmarks for adventure sports in the country.

“I am very excited and looking forward to learn many new things that I have not even heard of in my life,” said Gupta, a former techie who joined TSAF last year.

Tolia added that it was a comprehensive package that included trekking, skiing, rock climbing, rafting, canoeing and kayaking.

“We will also go through level one of the recreation avalanche certification course. The whole exercise is very demanding, but hopefully it will reflect on our activities back home,” said Tolia, who has done both basic and advance mountaineering courses.

So, what are the challenges and conditions the two will be facing?

According to Gupta, who is slowly, but steadily, picking up the ropes of mountaineering, the training will be conducted solo as well as in groups in minus 20°C temperature.

“We will also be taught how to read maps and compasses as well as survival strategies. Both of us will be left alone in the wild and will have to find the route back,” he added.

While trekking will be conducted at Red Canyons, water sports will be carried out at the Rocky mountain range. Skiing is scheduled at a nearby location.

Legendary climber and chief of Tata Steel adventure programmes Bachendri Pal, who hand-picked Gupta and Tolia for the expedition, said she was serious about making TSAF a demanding classroom where people can learn outdoor living and character building.

Asked why she chose Gupta and Tolia, the ace climber said Tolia had a good track record as an instructor, while Hemant was young and would of great help in implementing long-term plans. “I am sure our staffers will come back with new ideas that can be incorporated in our outdoor programmes. Their trip will add a spark to our outdoor activities,” Pal added.