10 Essential Questions: Ananth Maniam

Meet Ananth Maniam, a 1-year member and data scientist from India who completed 100 ascents in his first year in Seattle, all without a car. Oh, and he carries ice cream with him on trips.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
March 23, 2018

Each week we bring you a personal story from one of our members. For our member profile this week we talked to....

Name: Ananth Maniam
Hometown: Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Grew up in villages across Tamil Nadu.
Member Since: December 2016
Occupation: I work as a Data Scientist in a company called 'Amazon'.
Favorite Activities: I always loved being outdoors. I grew up as a farmer, climbing coconut trees for fun. Now that life has brought me to Seattle, I love scrambling, backpacking, peak bagging, trekking, and recently climbing. My favorite activity is trying to keep my ice cream frozen on trips.

10 Essentials: Questions

How did you get involved with The Mountaineers?

Back in India, I used to hike with a group called 'India Hikes' and did some treks across the Himalayas. Once I moved to Seattle, I learned about this organization called The Mountaineers. I wanted to go out often to learn and explore new places and cultures. With the 'Seattle Freeze' as a warning, I thought The Mountaineers would be my home in Seattle (it truly came to be one).

What motivates you to get outside with us?

I’ve been inspired to explore the outdoors and push my limits for many years. Here are few my main motivations:

  • Growing up at sea level with no experience in mountain life, I booked my first trip to Kashmir to a trek across Great Lakes Himalayas. There were many challenges: language, race, size, age, etc. I wanted to prove to myself that everything can be overcome.
  • When I moved to Seattle, my friends told me public transportation is not adequate for trail life. There are more challenges here as a non-familiar face in the mountains. 
  • When I joined The Mountaineers, people used to ask me, "Have you ever climbed a mountain before?" or "Don't you feel cold in snow, since you come from a tropical place?" or "You don't have a car, how do you enjoy the mountains here?" I wanted to put all this to rest and enjoy the maximum time in the woods.
  • I wanted to break stereotypes by inviting and showing ways for more people to enjoy the outdoors. I enjoy bringing diverse crowds into the mountains to share the awesome outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.

What's your favorite Mountaineers memory?

  • My first unsuccessful scramble at Humpback taught me about group thinking.
  • My first overnight winter scramble at Adams showed me group camaraderie.
  • My first knock on the helmet for kicking steps for too long showed me the value of teamwork.
  • All my carpool buddies showed me how lovely Mountaineers can be. 
  • My first leader experience showed me what giving back to the community is all about. 
  • My first appreciation from a fellow immigrant filled me with happiness.

Who/What inspires you?

I used to spend a lot of time at my grandparents' farms in India, doing farm labour, looking at distant mountains. My grandfather always motivated me to do something I liked. No one in my entire family, or even generations back, has ever climbed a mountain. I wanted to do something different.

When I landed my first job with a salary of 350$ a month in India, I started saving money. I even saved 50% of my salary for a year to buy a backpack. I saved for 2.5 years to go on a first trip from the southernmost part of India to the northernmost part of India. After my first trip, I invited my friends to go on trips with me. I would buy/lend my gear so they could explore. 

I grew up with the lessons to "always give what you have to others who don't have" and "always show things which others can't afford to see". These words inspire me to do something for people like me who would love to explore outside but can't do it on their own.

What does adventure mean to you?

Anyone experiencing anything out of their comfort zone is an adventure.  For example, me moving to Seattle is an adventure. Me being in the mountains is an adventure. But I would also say, how you handle the adventure and how you make a path for others to enjoy the same adventure is an adventure in itself.

Lightning Round
Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise.
Smile or game face? Smile. Always carry a smile. If not all 32 teeth aim for at least 20 to be visible.
What's your 11th essential? Everyone knows my 11th essential is ice cream. I carry it in an Ice Mule. This keeps ice cream frozen for 36 hours in the mountains. People who've been on trips with me know that I talk about ice cream and food all the time. Plus this has been a great ice breaker I use when I lead hiking trips. Works like magic!
Whats your happy place? High elevation overnight camping with clear skies and no wind in the Himalayas.
If you could be a rockstar at any outdoor activity overnight, what would it be? Alpine lake swimming on a summer overnight backpack.

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    Danielle Graham
    Danielle Graham says:
    Mar 23, 2018 11:56 AM

    Hurrah Ananth. So glad you are in my Mountain Family!!!!

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Mar 23, 2018 02:03 PM

    Thanks Danielle! We are all one happy mountain family!!

    Jacob Lopilato
    Jacob Lopilato says:
    Mar 24, 2018 01:58 PM

    Great guy! Happy to have shared a few trips with him.

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Mar 27, 2018 01:43 PM

    Thanks Jacob!! Lot more to go! Thanks for helping me learn a lot of the skills that i have now :)

    Mushtaque Silat
    Mushtaque Silat says:
    Mar 25, 2018 08:16 PM

    Awesome! You are a great addition to the Mountaineer's family!

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Mar 27, 2018 01:44 PM

    Thanks Mushtaque!! Always great to go climbing with some familiar faces :)

    Ashish Rawat
    Ashish Rawat says:
    Mar 27, 2018 10:32 PM

    Ice-cream and the billion dollar smile you carry :)

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Mar 29, 2018 12:54 PM

    Thanks Ashish!

    April Hinsberger
    April Hinsberger says:
    Mar 28, 2018 08:43 AM

    ❤️

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Mar 29, 2018 12:54 PM

    <3

    Drew Eliott
    Drew Eliott says:
    Apr 01, 2018 04:22 PM

    Ananth, I am fortunate to have met you on a few Scrambles and was amazed when you accomplished 50 trips... then then learned with no car. 100 is living a dream. Congrats, Drew

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Apr 08, 2018 09:36 PM

    Thanks Drew! Always a great experience going out on your trips! Looking forward to doing more with you in the future!

    Rodney Powell
    Rodney Powell says:
    Apr 08, 2018 08:46 AM

    My brother! You sir, are mountain bad a$$.

    Love your quote and plan to use it a lot going forward. "Anyone experiencing anything out of their comfort zone is an adventure."

    Ananth Maniam
    Ananth Maniam says:
    Apr 08, 2018 09:43 PM

    Rodney!! Definitely we are going to take some many people on adventures and make them feel comfortable!! That's what we ought to do right? :D