Gopal Vasudev Lele, an 81-year-old resident of Pune, has trekked in the Himalayas more than 10 times till now. And after one of his recent treks in September last year, his name has been recorded in the Limca Books of Records as the oldest person to trek to Rupin Pass, which is located in Himachal Pradesh at a height of 15,350 feet.
Facing challenges like rain, snowfall and landslides in temperatures as low as minus seven degree Celsius, he completed the trek.
“I don’t feel like an 81-year-old, I regard myself as 81-years-young,” Gopal, who has been trekking since 1972, told The Indian Express. Till today, he walks about eight kilometres every day, does physical exercises and climbs a tekdi (small hill) near the Mumbai-Pune Highway once a week. He has been to places like Kedarnath, Kailash, Kanchenjunga and Sangla, and is currently preparing for a trek to Roopkund in Uttarakhand this September. He joined a Pune-based trekking group named Treknik seven years ago, and has been a part of it since then.
An electrical and automobile engineer by education, Gopal moved to Pune in 1964. He set up his own business about 25 years ago after working in different factories. Today, his business is managed by his son but he visits the factory every day
Talking about the kind of preparation required to trek in the Himalayas, he said – “One should not hurry up because it’s not a race. Besides, months of preparation that requires focus on physical fitness, is needed. One cannot decide just one fine day to trek Himalaya…I have often heard people saying that there’s less oxygen in high altitude areas. I have trekked in the Himalayas number of times but have never felt breathless. I think health and fitness is all in the mind. Sitting here in comfortable homes, one should not imagine things.”
The octogenarian does not suffer from any problems like blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, etc.