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How The Himalayan Mountain Challenge Helps Evolve Students Into Collaborative Leaders

There is a growing concern voiced by Business Schools and professional institutions. They notice that students focus so much on individual achievement that they do not develop collaborative leadership skills and behaviors. This places them at a great disadvantage in the present day working world.

Collaborative leadership is a vital and growing need in today’s highly networked world. Working in teams and interacting closely with different stakeholders is the new norm. This propels organisations to a path of higher growth and efficiency. Yet, few leaders have been trained to lead collaboratively.

The Himalayan Mountain Challenge program is a specifically designed experiential learning program where students learn to develop collaborative leadership skills. This suits students of business schools as well as professional institutes.  

The program has been developed and refined over the past 8 years in collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Management of our country.

Over the last 8 years, having taken over 4,000 students from the top IIMs of our country on the program with us, we have seen the strong impact this program has had on them. In a short span of time they not only learn collaborative leadership —  they internalize it.

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Why Top B-schools Join Our Himalayan Mountain Challenge

How Does Learning Happen On The Himalayan Mountain Challenge Program

Students Learn Through An Immersive Experience

In this specifically designed experiential learning program, students have to plan and execute their own trekking expedition. The trekking expedition, spread over 4 days, requires them to reach a high point, usually a summit, and return down to the base camp safely. They do this in teams composed of 8 to 10 members, usually of diverse skills and abilities. 

In a trekking expedition students are completely out of their comfort zones. They are forced to confront situations and overcome challenges that they have never encountered before. They face adverse weather conditions, like snow or rain. They cook their own food, set up and unwind their campsites and find their way through mountain trails. Each day is designed to be a little more challenging in terms of terrain, altitude and specific team activities. 

None of this is easy to do. Overcoming these challenges, day in and day out, as a team, tests and develops their skills of collaborative leadership.

This happens not by chance but by design of the program.  The three major elements of the design are: 

  1. The trek: Designing the trek experience to force students out of their comfort zones creates the environment for learning. Each day of the trek has progressive change in terrain, altitude, temperature, and trekking hours. This keeps students constantly on the learning edge.
  2. The activities. The entire expedition is also broken down into carefully designed activities. Every activity has a specific takeaway. It requires every team member to work collaboratively every single hour of the program.
  3. Reflection sessions at the end of each day is a crucial element that enables teams to introspect on their learning each day. Guided by the facilitator they talk about all the activities of the day and discuss what worked and what did not.During reflections, they also address conflicts in a way that resolves them.  They strategize and plan for the next day, taking into account the learning so far.

Doing this over and over again during the 4 days of the program, brings about collaborative leadership skills in every member of the team.

 

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How The Program Is Introduced At Your Institute

  • Our experts visit your Institute to discuss and understand the outcomes you want for the students
  • We design and finalize the program collaboratively towards achieving the outcomes
  • We sign an MoU and start planning the different activities towards the program

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Questions That Institutes And Students Have

Which are the treks selected for the Himalayan Mountain Challenge Program?

As of now we have 4 treks that lend themselves very well to the program. They are Dayara Bugyal, Kedarkantha, Brahmatal and Ali-Bedni Bugyal treks. All 4 of them go up to an altitude of about 12,500 feet, cresting in a summit. The treks are spectacular as well as safe for students.

How can I get this program to my college?

If you wish to have this program at your college get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or call +91- 7022175673. We can then schedule an appointment to meet in person or online and discuss the details. 

The college can offer it to all students across courses, or consider it as a program for a particular course. Some enter into an MoU with us and include elements into the design that are most suited to their needs.

If you are a student who wishes to have this program at your college, then do the initial groundwork and put us in touch with the concerned person so that we can initiate conversation and take it forward.

How much does the program cost?

The fee is generally charged on a per participant basis. This includes all expenses, per student, from basecamp to basecamp. All other services, such as transport and stay before and after the program, will be charged as actuals. The fee changes depending on the number of students enrolled for the program. 

Here is an approximate costing for about 100 students from your college, split into two groups. 

Inclusions

  • Accommodation during the trek (camping – 3 per tent)
  • All meals – vegetarian
  • Trekking permits and forest camping charges
  • Trekking equipment (tents, sleeping bags, ice axes, ropes, etc.)
  • Safety equipment (first aid, medical kit, oxygen cylinders, stretchers, etc.)
  • Services of an expert trek leader (qualified in basic/advanced mountaineering courses)
  • Services of a support team (volunteers, guides, cooks, helpers, porters/mules)
  • Expert facilitation team from Indiahikes

Exclusions

  • Food during transit to and from the base camp.

For every 50 members 1 staff member from the Institute is required to accompany them. The staff member will not be charged any trek fee.

How do we integrate this program Academically?

Considering that it is an Experiential Learning Program, it can very well be integrated into the curriculum to complement theoretical learning especially around the concept of leadership. The best integration happens in subjects that include leadership, team work, communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. Furthermore sustainability and subjects requiring a deeper awareness of self can greatly benefit from this experiential learning component.

The IIMs offer it as an optional credit program. IFIM offers it as part of the Social Immersion Program. Some Institutions offer it as an orientation program for all new students entering the Institute.

Will there be mobile network and electricity available throughout the trek?

On the trek there is no electricity and the mobile network is hardly available. The last point for charging your mobiles and cameras is usually at the base camp.

How is the tent accommodation on the trek?

You will stay in expedition dome tents. 3 students share one tent. Girls and boys stay separately.

How do we prepare students for the trek?

Most students have never trekked before and are also not fit enough to trek. Considering this we have a robust system to prepare them for it. We guide you step by step starting a month and a half before your trek. We get you ready in terms of fitness as well as gear.

Pre Trek Approximate Preparation Guide

Fitness: By the time the students leave for the trek they must be able to jog 3 km in 19½ minutes. 

Those with a BMI 30 and above need to get it below 30 before the trek starts. Blood pressure readings need to be in the normal range as well.

Trek Gear: Participants will have to get all the gear they require well in advance. They can opt for renting gears to avoid spending too much on their first trek experience. However, renting of gears must be done 30 days in advance as stocks don’t last.

Can I join the program as an individual?

We have a few ‘’Open HMC” groups that are announced regularly on our website. If you would like to be contacted regarding this please fill in the inquiry form or send us an email and we will inform you about the same as well. 

We usually run an Open HMC when we have 20-30 students interested in doing it. So do drop us a line and we will loop you in!

How We Keep Students Safe

A common question asked to us is, how do we keep your students safe in the Himalayan Mountain Challenge program.

To answer this we need to give you a bit of a background.

Indiahikes is India’s largest and safest trekking organization. More than 20,000 trekkers trek with us every year. They do so not because we are the largest but because of our legacy.

Indiahikes has defined the safety norms for trekking in our country. We have brought in most of the safety systems, protocols and equipment that are now considered the standard requirement for safe trekking.

As a testimony, since 2012 we have had more than 4,000 students from the top IIMs of our country with us on the Himalayan Mountain Challenge Program. 

The mechanism of safety that we follow is very important for you to know. For this we need to take you through the 3 pillars that uphold safety on all our treks — it stands on (1) The people who run the program (2) our safety processes (3) and our high end safety equipment.  

 

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VIEW SAMPLE SAFETY PLAN

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