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Interview with mountaineer, backpacker and Indian lover David Funseth from Sweden

David

Our first adventure with David from Sweden we had last year on our ten-day expedition to the 6001 meter high Deo Tibba. David had previously taken part in a month-long mountaineering course in Uttarkhashi (Indian mountain resort in the state of Utthrakhand) and was now fire and flame to apply his gained knowledge.

The expedition was not only very successful, but we were also a very good team and became good friends. In the same year, a few days after the Deo Tibba expedition, we climbed the slightly smaller Friendhip Peak (5353 m, Kullu Valley). A few months later, David came back to climb solo the 6153 meter high Stok Kangri in Ladakh.

Friendship-Gipfel Expedition

Friendship Summit Expedition

During the last six months he continued his medical studies in Sweden, but now he is back here in Manali to climb Hanuman Tibbas (5932 meters) during his semester holidays.

In the meantime we have returned from the successful expedition and while our bodies are gradually recovering from the efforts of the last few days and we are not doing anything but to eat and sleep, I have used this somewhat “inactive” situation to do a small interview with David. Because David has already traveled to India a few times, even before his passion for climbing, it is all the more interesting to find out what connects him so much with India!

Hello David, you have been to India a total of five times. Why do you keep coming back?

I really do not have a single answer to this question. It is something indefinable that always draws me to India. Probably it’s a mix of rampant cities, overflowing with people, diverse cultures, delicious food and beautiful nature, but really, the sum of India’s different parts is so much larger, that it can be explained only in its individual components.

What made you travel to India for the first time?

My first trip to India was part of a longer trip I made in 2013. I was, fascinated by the secrets of India and curious about how it would differ from Sweden. I came from Sweden to India by land and it was something special to cross the border into India, to a country I had heard so much about, but actually didn’t really know anything. The Indian spirituality also drew me to India. At that time I was looking for answers that needed new philosophical input; something that India and its inhabitants would give me, albeit in a very unexpected way.

What are the most fascinating Indian places for you and why?

Arunachal Pradesh

India’s diversity makes many places fascinating in their own way. In 2015, I spent a month in the northeastern states of India. Me and a friend crossed the border from Myanmar to Manipur. We visited Nagaland, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. For me, Arunachal Pradesh is a really special travel area. I love the unspoilt nature and culture of the eastern Himalayas. We spent a whole three weeks in Arunachal Pradesh and the welcome we received was incomparable. Arunachal Pradesh still has many peoples who want to invite you and shared their culture. It was a very humbling experience for us and we are still very grateful to the wonderful people for giving us an insight into their lives.

There are also green hills everywhere and further north the snow-capped mountains rise to the border of Tibet. Arunachal is like a small India within India with a lot of diversity.

You have already climbed four mountains within India. What is special about mountaineering in India?

David

The Himalayas have some of the most impressive peaks in the world! The solitude, wilderness and true beauty make the Himalayas a special place to spend time. A very important part for me is also the local mountain culture, which you encounter while travelling in these areas of the world. The mountains are not only a playground for mountaineers and trekkers, but also a home for a large number of people.

Which expedition was the most special for you and why??

All ascents have a very special place in my memory for very different reasons. For me, all expeditions are especially in their own way.

Which was the most demanding expedition?

David

Also, everyone was demanding in their own way. Physically, Hanuman Tibba was exhausting for me. I was not physically in good shape and became ill during the expedition. Every day I had to push myself quite physically and mentally.

Is the Indian Himalayas different from that in Nepal?

All mountains are unique forms of rock and ice. In addition, the cultures are different. Parts of Nepal are much more developed than the Indian Himalayas. So far I have only visited the Khumbu region of Nepal, the home of the Sherpas and a very well developed part of the Himalayas with teahouses along the paths. This makes trekking and access to the mountains easier and has the result, that this region is visited by many more people. Big names such as Everest and Annapurna also attract more people, than the Indian Himalayas. My experience is based on the Khumbu region in Everest alone, so I want to be a little careful with my closings.

Are there any places in India you would like to visit?

I think there is still more in India, that can be explored. At the moment I am very fascinated by Uttrakhand. I did a mountaineering course in this state in 2015 and would like to explore the mountains in this area more. I dream of visiting mountains such as Meru, Shivling, Trishul and Nanda Devi. Sikkim is also at the top of my list.

Also, practically the whole south of India is not yet visited by me. During my brief visit to Mumbai and Hampi, I realized that India is much more diverse and complex than I could ever have imagined. There is so much to explore here!

Are there places in India where you will return again and again?

Ganges Varanasi

I will probably keep coming back to the mountains of India. It’s hard to resist this urge! Varanasi is also a place to which I will return again and again. There is this special atmosphere that fills you with reflection. Sitting on the banks of the Aisle for a few hours and just watching the world can work wonders for the mind.

Thank you David for taking your time and have a wonderful stay in India!