We chatted up with Mozart Maxon about his experiences in the outdoors and adventure industry, having worked with several trekking companies as a trek leader and manager. With a captivating smile and an enthusiastic personality to match, Max has led several trekking enthusiasts on the slopes of the mighty Himalayas. Starting his journey from the climbing walls at the hiking club of St. Stephens, Delhi to the high mountain passes of Himalayas he talks to us about a career in the great outdoors!
Where did the journey begin?
The hiking club at the St. Stephens College was where he was initiated into the world of adventure sports but it wasn’t until his final year of post-graduation that he realized he wanted to do this full time.
“I realized my love for the outdoors and the skills I had learnt could be applied productively while giving me a chance to opt out of the daily grind of city existence. I felt I could, through my own little efforts bring not only people close to the outdoors, but also the outdoors close to the people!”
On a formal education for trekking
Max says, “After having trekked/climbed for a few years, I did a Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) while pursuing my masters. An Advanced Mountaineering Course (AMC) can follow this, for anyone who wishes to take a step further. The course is rigorous but a wonderful experience. For anyone hoping to get into adventure sports, this serves as a good introduction. A course though, only serves its purpose when the skills learnt are practically applied & implemented.”
The skills required to become a trek leader
While it might seem that physical fitness is the only parameter for a trek leader, mental strength is equally important as Max quips, “Most importantly one requires the ability to stay calm & think rationally when faced with potentially dangerous situations. Being physically strong is good but a thoughtful trek leader will always provide a more valuable experience. Knowledge of mountain illness & medical practices is absolutely essential. One should seek proper training before taking on the responsibility for the well-being of other people. Having real-life management skills is a bonus!”
How a day on the slopes looks like
As a trek leader, the longest Max has been on the slopes is for a stretch of 8 months, otherwise it could be anywhere between 120-340 days a year! And these days on the slopes have a rhythm of their own as Max explained to us, “A typical day begins at 5 AM with tea. And is quickly followed by breakfast and packing up. On long multi-day expeditions one is moving from one campsite to the next on a daily basis.
The day is spent trekking, bonding, and covering distance/altitude/obstacles. Lunch is generally en-route. Once we are at camp, we set up and rest for the remainder of the day. We end up spending time near the warmth of the campfire, swapping stories and experiences. We hit the sleeping bag by 9 PM. It is a healthy & enriching experience.”
On the mountains you are at the mercy of nature! The weather changes, the altitude, all of it is challenging physically. But Max brings our attention to an important aspect of trash and pollution. He emphasizes the need to be more responsible and sustainable.
On the personal challenges
Becoming a trek leader is not something parents envision their kids as, it is still an offbeat career and Max is hopeful that the trend is changing. He notes, “With the dawn of adventure photography and the easy sharing of exciting outdoor visuals; adventure sports/travel, are only very recently finding their way into the mainstream conversation and imagination. More people are not only coming to appreciate but also moving to the outdoors for healthy & fulfilling experiences.”
On starting a career as a trek leader
Interning with a trekking company is a great way to understand how the outdoor industry functions. “It’s always good to begin somewhere. After all, nothing compares to actual on-slope experience.” Max continues stating that trek leading is only the first step, in fact you can next move to managing the treks completely and also get into the marketing and business development side. He in fact is now working on his own venture of bringing the outdoors to people in the urban indoor space.
Advice for those seeking their first job
As someone who has worked with several adventure outfits he says, “Make sure you find the right fit for you! The market today has about 2500+ trekking companies and all operate at varying levels & standards. It is best to research every option thoroughly before jumping in. Ask as many people, as you know who have experience in this field. Try reaching out to leaders in the industry to seek advice. One is happiest when ones work ethic coincides with that of the company.”
Are you ready to hit the slopes for an adrenaline filled career? If you have also chosen an offbeat career, do share your story with us!