Adversity is the wellspring of wisdom.
It’s the foundation of character.
Without adversity, your inner power atrophies
and your moral compass can lose true north.
Our team of 13 Westerners set out to follow the steps of devout Hindus who, over the centuries, have set out to climb Shrikhand Mahadev (17,195 ft). Noted as one of the toughest pilgrimages in the world – it became evident how adversity would help us expand possibility.
The thin air of the Himalayas combined with the dramatic terrain coupled for a classic journey of “one step at a time.”
It took three travel days plus three tough climbing days to get to base camp. Well above the tree-line we planned a rest day to assimilate our systems to the 14,000+ altitude.
The day of the climb we were nervous and excited. There were a number of massive glaciers on unforgiving angles which required walking crampons to secure our footing.
As mentioned, pilgrims and holy Sadhus also made the journey. With flimsy shoes and rudimentary walking sticks. Their faith drove them past physical and rational limitations of what seemed possible.
At every turn and 'false' peak, a new height revealed itself. At any given time, it seemed like we were close to the summit but another incline pushed its challenge in our faces.
Finally, we came over another 60+ degree climb to see the summit of Shrikhand Mahadev. When the peak was in view – the final push was on.
At 17,195 feet our guides and our team were greeted by a Sadhu who lit incense and chanted a Hindu blessing.
Together, Max and I celebrated reaching the summit. We thank all our team who supported us. HOPE was our fuel.
Our descent was easier than the climb, but going down was no less treacherous. Each careful step was clouded by exhaustion and some dehydration. We took longer than we expected to summit and descend. This meant we ran out of water and had to finish the 4,000 foot vertical round trip with nothing to drink. The day took over 11 hours. The last of our team descended after 12 and ½ hours.
On the way back through the Kullu valley we came across sheep herders and more pilgrims.
A small town visit was like climbing into a time capsule – straight into the middle ages. Curious heads popped out of windows and doors to see a rare sighting of a Westerner. The question we were asked most often? "What are you doing here?" That was indeed, a profound question. Impossible to answer in just a few words. Although, adversity was thematic in every day we explored.
Most of our team pictured here.
Max and Vince Poscente feeling grateful for an extraordinary experience into the heart of India’s Himalayas.
We experienced the 'right' amount of adversity to grow as son and father, as adventurers and as part of a historic pilgrimage. It was the trek of a lifetime - one we will always share in the corner of our memories.
Thank you for joining us!
Max Poscente - Thanking my sponsors:
Thank you to all the sponsors who joined us to the top of the world.
Father's Heart Project
Thomas Franchise Solutions
Estes, Okon, Thorne & Carr
Coldwell Banker Commercial Alliance
Endeavor Configure Price Quote
Mutual Capital Alliance
Crossing Rivers Health
I will be bringing back your flag. It will represent the Sir Edmund Hillary saying, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” I feel luck to have shared this with you and to share this climb with my dad. (He did pretty good for an old guy ;-) Best wishes – onward and upward. Max Poscente
Max reporting from The Himalayan Queen
We left this ‘hill station’ travelling on the Himalayan Queen – a UNESCO World Heritage Train. We connected through Shatabadi to Delhi. Is was a long day but we were all in high spirits. At night we celebrated our success and friendship with an amazing Indian meal.
We reflected on the age-old traditions of the Kullu Valley. We talked about the Kullu Oracle for our blessings to climb the mountain. We smiled as we talked about the holy pilgrims and cultural evenings we encountered. Most of all we were grateful for a once in a life time experience.
Max reporting on the road again...
To complete our mountain climbing expedition we have transitioned into Jeeps which took us from Nirmand to Shimla. We travelled on the beautiful Hindustan Road. Shimla is described as the queen of hill stations and was the summer capital of the British Empire. It is now the administrative and political capital of Himachal Pradesh. We stayed in an actual hotel. The shower was the single best shower I have ever had!!!
Report from Max Poscente:
Last night we camped in Thachru. A pristine jewel of the Himalayas.
Today we hiked to Nirmand village. There were amazing temples as we camped beside the beautiful village. At a campfire we bid farewell to the porters and trekking staff who had been with us this past eleven days. We leave the trail behind us.
Our porters' beautiful smiles and kind ways complement their amazing strength and stamina. These amazing people would break camp for us as we hiked ahead. They would pass us and have camp ready when we arrived. They are humble, strong, gentle and kind. It was a fond farewell to brothers living across the world.
Did we make it or not? Why not tell you now. One reason, our theme of this climb was based on a Sir Edmund Hillary quote, "It is not the mountain we conquer. But ourselves." I will let you know. In the meantime, I will personally reflect on what I have learned. We Americans put so much emphasis on reaching the top that we forget the importance of our inner journey as well.
Max Poscente reporting:
Every step down is a step into more oxygen. We leave behind us raw and unforgiving nature as we return to civilization.
It is amazing to live without all the comforts we become used to. Electricity. Toasters. WIFI. Board games. Our expedition leader, Jeff Salz (pictured above) told us, “Nature is the lazy teachers’ classroom.” What an education it was – and continues to be!
Max report - Himalayas... Shrikhand Mahadev
We plan on summiting the holy peak of Shrikhand Mahadev (17,195 feet). At times, every step will be followed by two or three breathes. It a spiritual day with endless views of the Himalayas from all sides. This sacred place is where you can feel the energy of nature everywhere.
We climb 3,600 feet today and come back down. It will a long day. We will hold our sponsoring company flags proudly at the top of the world.
Max report from 13,622 feet above sea level
One of the longest days of our trek requiring an early start to Kali Ghati – the top of Danda Dhaar (12,800 ft.). From here - a 360-degree view of the Himalayas. More climbing brought us past massive waterfalls – a result of some extraordinary snow-falls during the winter.
A place of breathtaking scenery and “the Orchard of Parvati, consort of Lord Shiva." Camp just below the holy Shrikhand Mountain. Nerves about the next day ahead and high altitude (13,622 feet) meant a night of fitful sleep.
Max Poscente reporting from India's Himalayas
Today we trekked along the stream as we enjoyed breathtaking views. The eight-hour climb was exhausting at times. Stamina is what is important as we climb.
We could hear water in running in the distance but we didn’t cross any streams. We had to carry all the water we needed for the day. We eventually reached camp at Taacharu (11,318 feet above sea level).
Max report from the beginning of our summit expedition:
Today began our trek to the summit. Starting at 6,400 feet at a small village beside bank of the river Kurpan. We started at the bottom of the Shrikhand mountain range in the small town of Jaun. Small houses, temples and apple orchards frame the magnificent view of Shrikhand mountain. We feel strong and ready.