Why I left my job as a business analyst to be a trek leader

Mountains became his office, forests replaced his desk, tents became his home and sleeping bags replaced his bed. Our trek leader Ankit Naithani ponders over why he chose to leave his family, friends and comfort back at home to pursue a career up on the mountains.

Written by Ankit Naithani
I still remember the first time I saw the snow-clad Himalayas in all their grandeur. It was love at first sight. I am sure that is the case for most of us, but I felt something else – something stronger, something I was unable to put in words. I understood this feeling much later.; It was a sense of belonging.

Trying to find the perfect frame

I was brought up in a crowded city of Mumbai by typical Garhwali parents. My parents had moved to Mumbai early in their lives and had worked hard to raise my sister and me. Mumbai was quite fulfilling if not exciting and there was absolutely no reason to complain, until I got bitten by the travel bug that compelled me to travel the length and breadth of our country.

My travels eventually brought me back to the Garhwal Himalayas, my roots, but when I got here, I saw a completely different perspective. Strangely, I did not get the feeling I was “travelling” there. I thought I was home. For the first time, I experienced the warmth of home away from home. So strong was this feeling that once I went back to Mumbai, I could no longer focus on my work. I started making travel plans to the Himalayas again. I realised that this wasn’t just wanderlust and that the Himalayas had started working their magic on me. After that, it wasn’t difficult for me to decide to quit my job as a Business Analyst with General Mills and leave the comforts of Mumbai behind, and move to the Himalayas.

But when I thought, What am I going to do up there?

I wanted a job that would enable me to travel across these marvelous ranges. That is when trekking came into picture. Trekking and mountaineering had been a passion while I was growing up. So I decided to explore my options in this domain. I did a mountaineering course from Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter sports. This course introduced me to the trekking scenario in the Himalayas. The thought of moving to the Himalayas soon transpired into reality and I joined Indiahikes as a trek leader in June 2015.

With trekkers and Ashish, another of our trek leaders.

Being a trek leader with Indiahikes is a spectacular job, but one that comes with lot of responsibilities. A trek leader runs the entire show on the trek. This includes handling the guides, staff and more importantly, the trekkers. He decides which trail the team takes and is also the medical point of contact on the trek. He is basically responsible for everything that happens up on the mountain and even one wrong decision can have catastrophic implications!

I often tell my family and friends that if all is well, I am probably not even required to be on the trek. However, when the going gets tough (which happens quite often), all heads turn to one person. The pressure and weight of expectations is much more than it ever was in the meeting room of General Mills but so is the level of excitement and satisfaction. My office desk soon got replaced by endless forests, my bedroom by Hillman tents and my bed by a warm cozy sleeping bag and I loved every bit of it.

The only disappointment perhaps was that I would be away from family and friends. But that disappointment was also forgotten as I began meeting new people. In my time here, I have met some amazing travellers, formed friendships that are going to last a lifetime and lived through some spectacular experiences. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would travel to the remotest Himalayan villages and live among locals as one of them. The kind of warmth and reception by which I was made a part of their lives is almost unbelievable. I started having many small families in different base camps.

In my eight months with Indiahikes, I have lead treks in Himachal, Uttarakhand, Kashmir and Darjeeling and each place has left a lasting impression on me.

With the trekkers

They say mountains are the best teacher and I can’t agree more. They have taught me to be humble, to be respectful of others and more importantly, to zoom out and see the larger picture. I learnt that life is going to be full of highs and lows but one needs to be like the mountain and take it all in his/her stride. I wake up, optimistic about new possibilities. I know I have a come long way from where I was but there is still a long way to go!

People often ask me why I left everything so dear to me to lead such a tough life in the mountains. My answer to them is simple, Why not?

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26 thoughts on “Why I left my job as a business analyst to be a trek leader

  1. i felt same way after my first trek during christmas 2015, met ankit and other fellow trek leaders and fell in love with mountains. i asked kushi (one of our trek guides) abt working as trek guide at india hikes, he had only good things to say abt the life at IH. unlike ankit im not brave enough to quit my job yet lol. may be that could change after my next trek with IH in june. Loved my experience with IH they were awesome. specially dineshiji, ankit, kushi, kamal and others. Specially dineshji whom woke in middle of night (2am) to ask abt my headache 😀 looking forward see you all again.

  2. I share similar story to yours.. can you please write an article on the courses and process you followed to become a trek leader in detail? Like what mountaineering courses you did, the costs and applications to India hikes?

    It would be a great info for people from South like me.

  3. Kudos my bro..m happy to know that you are doing something that amaze you..you are surely worth an inspiration and ur story is indeed to b told..god be with u little boy in all ur future treks..

  4. amazing to read n feel him.. its ones desire to be in mountains but leaving everything aside and devoting the self to mountains is a great courage.. heads off to you my friends.. would luv to meet u one day over a trek with india hikes..! or might d oa trek to meet u,. lol

  5. All the very best Ankit. It takes a lot of determination to leave a comfortable life and get into a ‘not so comforting life’. But as you know people like you don’t ask for anything else but food for their soul and i.e The Great Himalayas. I wish you all luck and happiness 🙂

  6. Hi Ankit,
    I wud say u r the BRAVE soul and u deserve a BRAVO for this. Not many have this guts to leave everything and go for passion of life. No matter existing life mite b comfortable but there is nothing bigger than passion.
    Dreams are worth more than Anything else.
    B in touch.
    Ur frnd from Gen Mills
    Priyanka Taikar.

  7. Very well written my friend, and continue to doing this. We all will be privileged to experience even 1% of the joy you get, through the words you write.
    All the very Best Ankit, you’re doing well and hope you continue on your path to reaching new, great heights every day 🙂
    Really proud of you! Requires a hell lot of guts, firstly to take the decision you took and then to stand by it, but since you love it – AWESOME!


  8. Just 3 Times Salute Salute Salute……
    i”ll Done Dayara Top with Ankit..i asked him that why you Leave Mumbai..? at that time he just smile..bt Today i Got His Answer…

  9. Hey Ankit, its really great to know that you are finally following your passion.During general mills experience I could always sense that you are meant to be in mountains…I am glad that you following your dreams. Wish you best wishes and great sucess to live your dreams ahead….Ashwini

  10. Live your dreams young lad. Your parents know me you don’t. All the same wishing u all the luck in the world. May you make your parents proud. Great going.

  11. I’m looking forward to be a part of India Hikes! Mine is quite a similar case and this article just motivated and pumped me more to do what i like to do !

  12. I am actually carrying out this role now after having completed into the organisation as a BA. The points raised here are spot on and have really resonated with me. One thing I have found difficult is giving the time to the user stories and AC that I would like. This could be more to do with the effort required to get the team up and sprinting. The team gave raised it at the retro so changes are a foot