Dubai: 'Ain't no mountain high enough' for this 70-year-old grandfather

His goal is to scale the highest peaks in 7 continents



by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Thu 21 Jul 2022, 3:26 PM

Last updated: Thu 21 Jul 2022, 4:29 PM

After Indian national Raman Sood retired from his 40-year banking career, he spent several hours of his day browsing social media on his mobile phone. After working for the State Bank of India for four decades, Sood, 70, and his 64- year-old wife moved to Dubai to live with his daughter's family.

"Sometime last year, while I was mindlessly going through my phone, my ten-year-old grandson asked – 'Grandpa, what is your purpose in life?" said Sood. The simple question from his grandson shook the septuagenarian out of his reverie. "I was free most of the time. I told my grandson Umair – I have lived my life's purpose. There is none left," he said.

"My grandson refused to believe there wasn't any purpose left. I couldn't sleep the night after the conversation with my grandson. That's when I decided to pursue my lifelong dream of scaling Mount Everest," he stated.

Since that conversation, Sood hasn't looked back. Between 2021 and July 2022, Sood took the tedious journey of trekking up the Everest Base Camp and completed the Three Passes Trek culminating at the Kala Patthar trek in Nepal for 21 days. Last month, he scaled Mount Yunam (6,111 meters) in Himachal Pradesh. "While I was trekking, I was asked by our guide and sherpa not to lead the group as the rest of the group couldn't keep up with me. People in the group were aged 25-45. I was the oldest. I was very happy to hear that I was doing so well," he added.

Situated on the Manali-Leh highway near Baralacha pass, the Indian expatriate is probably the oldest person to climb this peak. Now, he plans to scale the highest peaks in the seven continents, starting with Kilimanjaro in Africa in October.

Sky is the limit

Sood retired from State Bank of India as the bank's deputy general manager in April 2012. "We moved to Dubai last year after I lost my daughter Richa to Covid-19. She was only 40 years old and suffered from an auto-immune problem. She left behind Umair (10), and our son-in-law sponsors us," he explained.

"I pursue mountain climbing to honour her memory." Mountain climbing has been a cherished dream for Sood since his childhood. "I have a very average middle-class upbringing where the mentality is to work, earn money, and raise children. I'm trying to break stereotypes by mountaineering and being active," he explained.

Though he was an avid trekker during his younger years, Sood's responsibilities at the bank caught up with him. "To trek, you need at least 15- 20 days off work. "He added, there is no way I could take that kind of time off to do mountain climbing with my job," he added.

Experiences during his childhood

Sood scaled his first peak when he was 11 years old. "My first trek was to Mount Chud Dhar (12000 ft), located in Shimla district," said the Himachal Pradesh native. In his lifetime Sood has scaled several challenging peaks, including the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir, Darcha- Lamayuru via Zanskar Valley (Which starts in Himachal and ends in Ladakh), and the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in China. "I did the Kailash Mansarovar trek with my wife," he added.

He has also trekked the Pahalgam- Sonmarg via Sunumas pass covering the Kolohoi Glacier, Tarsar and Marsar lakes in Jammu and Kashmir. Sood has trekked the Darcha- Baralacha- Kunzum pass in Spiti Valley and the Shrikhand Mahadev trek in Himachal Pradesh.

'In the pink of his health'

"Fortunately, I have no ailments such as diabetes, blood pressure issues, or high cholesterol. I undergo a medical check-up yearly, and the results are always positive. I hope it continues that way," he stated. Sood undergoes a strenuous workout routine. He exercises five days a week to keep his muscle mass high. "I do resistance training and walk several km daily to keep muscles active," he added.

Once a week, Sood straps on a 17 kg backpack and goes for a 25 km walk in Dubai's JBR. He eats very nutritious food to keep his immunity levels and overall fitness. With plans to scale seven peaks on seven continents, Sood is also looking for sponsors to support his journey as his pension from the bank is not enough to cover the expensive travels.

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