A World to Explore and a Community to Inspire

Sandeep Nain's life centers around two things: adventure and generosity. He likes to explore and he also likes to share his adventures with others, which brought him to The Mountaineers. Sandeep started Miyar Adventures, and like his life journey, it's a unique company with an intriguing back-story. 
Suzanne Gerber Suzanne Gerber
Mountaineers Publication Manager
December 01, 2017
by Suzanne Gerber, Mountaineers Publications Manager

Sandeep Nain grew up with his parents and siblings sharing time between the town of Jind, Haryana and a village just outside, named Dharodi in northern India. He describes his house in Jind as a typical urban Indian dwelling, "a stand-alone concrete structure of about 250 square meters in a crowded urban housing community." He preferred their home in Dharodi. The traditional thatched roof and mud walled house there has a special place in his heart. The open feel and connection to the earth it provided still influences his life today as he connects with the land in the Pacific Northwest.

Sandeep was the first in his region to attend the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), which has a current acceptance rate of 2%, making the 5-8% acceptance rates of Harvard and MIT feel like an open-door policy. He started off his career working for Infosys, one of the largest IT Services company in India. It was located in Bangalore, often thought of as the Silicon Valley of India. He enjoyed the work but had a desire for adventure.

In 2005, Sandeep decided he was going to quit his job and go on a multi-month bike tour along the length of the Indian coast — a distance of over 4,500 miles. This kind of thing is unheard of in India. He knew his boss would think he was crazy if he told the truth, so he lied and said he got a better paying job somewhere else. His boss, who didn’t want to lose him, proposed an idea: he had contract work available with a rapidly-growing international tech company named Amazon. It would pay better than anything they could offer him locally, but Sandeep would have to move halfway around the world — to Seattle, Washington. Was he interested? 

Without much hesitation, Sandeep said yes, thinking that, with the money he made, he could have that much better of an adventure biking around India. His original plan was to stay in Seattle for nine months and then move back to pursue his
biking dream.

Sandeep packed his bags, said goodbye to his family, and moved halfway around the world where he didn’t know anyone. It didn’t take long for Sandeep to discover adventures a-plenty in the Pacific Northwest. Over a long July 4th weekend, he took a trip to the Olympic Peninsula with an Indian family he met through work. He convinced them to drop him off at the Elwha Ranger station and pick him up four days later at the Hoh River Ranger Station. He packed up an "old Indian rucksack" and off he went, on a backpacking adventure through the Olympic National Park. 

While hiking along Appelton Pass on his way towards Sol Duc, Sandeep met two seasoned backpackers who told him about The Mountaineers. It sounded perfect for him and he checked it out as soon as he got back to civilization. It was too late in the season to sign up for The Mountaineers’ Basic Climbing Course, but there were signups available for the Snowshoe/Winter Camping Course — and Sandeep wasn’t going to let the winter stand in the way of his adventures. Once he realized how easy it was to get out and explore year-round on the weekends while working during the week, Seattle became his home. 

This was 13 years ago. Today, Sandeep — now living on the Eastside — owns his own adventure travel company, complete with a retail store in Redmond, WA. He has been awarded the Life Saving Medal by the Snohomish County Sheriff's department for his work with Everett Mountain Rescue; completed three first ascents in Nepal; and, most important to Sandeep, raised thousands of dollars through charity climbs for Asha, a nonprofit that promotes education in India. 

A Mountaineer Saving Lives

The year after Sandeep took The Mountaineers' Winter Camping course, he took Basic Climbing — and the following year, he took Intermediate (completing it in one season). He credits The Mountaineers and the friends he met through the basic and intermediate climbing courses for his skills in the mountains. 

In 2009, Sandeep met Miles McDonough on a four-day climb of Mount Olympus. Miles was a Basic student and Sandeep was a mentor lead. They formed a close friendship and have since climbed hundreds of routes together. Their connection made the Life-Saving Medal rescue all the more meaningful: Miles was the one being rescued. The rescue was definitely deserving of an award. Sandeep and two other members of Everett Mountain Rescue responded a call late on Wednesday, September 6th, 2011 for a rescue mission near the summit of Mount Stuart.
On no sleep, the three ascended 7,000 feet of technical terrain with climbing equipment and first aid in just five hours. They successfully assisted the evacuation of Miles, via helicopter on the early morning of the 7th. Miles was also a member of Everett Mountain Rescue at the time, along with the Helicopter Rescue Team. He has since made a full recovery and is back to climbing with friends like Sandeep and rescuing others. (You can read about the rescue from Miles's perspective in the March/April 2014 issue of Mountaineer, p. 20-22 in our archives online: www.mountaineers.org/mountaineer-magazine/magazine-archives)

At this time, Sandeep was still working in the tech industry, though he had moved on from Amazon to Microsoft, to Expedia. It wasn't until after his climbing trip in the Himalayas that he had the inspiration to start his own adventure travel company.

Inspiring Miyar Adventures

Sandeep’s company is named Miyar Adventures — after the Miyar Valley (pronounced Mee-yar) in India where he and his climbing partners, Jason Schilling and Tim Halder, completed three notable climbs in the fall of 2013. Two of these climbs were also first ascents, meaning Sandeep’s team got to name them. They named the first Sanjana Peak (19,478 ft), after Sandeep’s late sister, and the second Mt. Sealth (19,580 ft), after the Native American Chief Sealth — the namesake for the city of Seattle. They also established a new route on David's 62 Nose. These peaks were climbed over a three-week period and Sanjana was the most difficult, requiring 14 pitches and an overnight emergency bivvy near the top when a long day turned to night. You can read about these ascents in more detail in the 2014 American Alpine Journal.

Sandeep's involvement with Asha For Education, devoted to providing education for underprivileged children in India, is somewhat of a fluke — he was looking for a place to volunteer and they had a meeting in Seattle which he attended. He liked the connection to his birth country. Sandeep became the lead coordinator for the Asha Rainier program while still working for Microsoft, eight years ago. He has lead over 100 people on charity climbs, many from India who never thought they would end up on the top of Washington's tallest peak. 

As much as Sandeep enjoys climbing, he enjoys sharing the joy of mountaineering and inspiring others even more. This is a big part of why he volunteers for Asha For Education. "I realized I liked helping people discover their potential in the mountains when I started leading fundraising climbs for Asha and preparing people for the big Rainier climb," says Sandeep. "I am appreciative of others who have helped me unlock my abilities. I'm as much or more of a student of climbing as I am a guide. I do not think there is any point where I would cease to be just one. For me, this is a journey that goes on and I keep discovering." 

All of this inspired Sandeep to start his own company. Miyar Adventures was launched in July of 2014, with the Outfitters retail location opening in October of 2016. He and his guides lead groups locally to mountains like Rainier, Baker, Shuksan, Sahale, and Glacier Peak — along with trips abroad to Kilimanjaro, Everest Base Camp, Machu Picchu, and Aconcagua. What sets his company apart from other guiding companies he says, is the personal touch. "I was introduced to climbing rather late in my life and had nothing to take for granted. This makes me appreciate the concerns of each of our customers as they set out on an adventure trip with us." 

Another thing that sets Sandeep's company apart is that it helps train local guides in rope and rescue techniques at little or no cost. This further builds community and support, along with increasing safety, which is a high priority for him. 

If you were to ask Miles what sets Sandeep apart, he would say, "He is unfailingly compassionate and generous with each human he interacts with regardless of the circumstance. He has a great intellect, sense of humor, and perspective in addition to commanding a unique passion for any adventures that take him into the backcountry."

Sandeep now has two young daughters — Jiya (which means life, vivaciousness) and Saba (the morning breeze). "It changes things," he says. Sandeep doesn't have any more first ascents planned in his future, but he does look forward to introducing many people to their own personal first ascents.

Sandeep-Rainier-Camp-Blog.jpg

To rent or buy Mountaineering gear, or plan an expedition, visit Miyar Adventure and Outfitters in Redmond at 16421 Cleveland Street, Suite B or online at www.miyaradventures.com.


This article originally appeared in our Fall 2017 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, click here.

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