Formed in 1949, this is the second oldest hiking club of India, the oldest being The Himalayan Club of Bombay. The hiking club of St. Stephens consists of 15 adventure sports junkies who take time out from their studies to celebrate the spirit of adventure. “College is the best time of your life. It is about making memories and having some fun”, says Suraj, Secretary of the Club.
The members meet every day and practice climbing at the Eshwaran Bharatan Memorial wall, an artificial rock climbing wall situated outside the college gymnasium. The annual St Stephen’s open short climbing competition also takes place here. The wall has been named after Eshwaran Bharata, president of the club in 1979-80, who was killed in an expedition in Lahaul.
“So what all activities do you do?” I ask Mohamin, President of the Club. “We’ve ventured into mountaineering, trekking, cycling, sport climbing and rafting. People think all this is a just-for-fun thing. But it’s serious business.”
The group has two divisions, one is the climbing team and the other is the organizing team. The latter concerns it with organizing treks and arranging for sponsorships. While membership of the group is strictly restricted to students of the college, everyone (that includes foreign exchange students, students from other colleges) is welcome to join the group in their treks. “The more, the merrier”, says Suraj, with a smile.
The club went to Kedarnath last year and also paid a trek visit to Ladakh. While most students prefer to cuddle in the comfort of their bedrooms during weekends, these guys choose to pedal away their weekends on cycle treks or sometimes go rock climbing in nearby locations like Damdama, Dhauj and Lado Sarai. They also organize talks with eminent personalities so as to learn the finer nuances of trekking.
However, a lot goes behind planning the treks. “We have a lot of work throughout the year. Before choosing a location, we have to see what season in favorable. We organize a long trek in the summer break and shorter treks in October, March and September, depending upon holidays. Then come sponsorships. A 10 day trek will have a budget of around 1 Lakh. So there is a lot to look into.” says Lucky, captain of the club.
Recently, the Equal Opportunity Cell of St. Stephen’s organized a trek for the visually challenged students, which was a great exposure to those students.
On being asked how the whole experience of being has a member of this club has been, they say, “The places where we go trekking are so serene and beautiful, and when you come back to the hustle bustle of the city it makes you appreciate the magical feeling of treks.”