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I quit my job at 45 to climb Kilimanjaro - and I've never been happier

Being in nature helped Umesh Kumar feel happier and more fulfilled

climbing kilimanjaro
Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
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I spent years chained to my desk working as a corporate lawyer in the city, feeling trapped with no time for myself. I knew the world had so much more to offer, but I just didn't have the time or freedom to explore it. 

But at 45, I decided enough was enough. I left my job, and once the decision was made I never looked back. During my downtime, I found myself searching for what an adventure might look like and I came across the Everest Base Camp trek.

It was something I had considered in the past, but didn't have the time to do... But now I did!

I agonized over it; I had never done a long-distance, multi-day trek before or been at altitude, so the prospect was both daunting and exciting. 

Just weeks after I quit my job, I boarded a flight to Kathmandu and I opened myself up to a new personal challenge outside of work that would allow me to discover both the majesty of the mountains and my own potential. 

Hiking opened Umesh's eyes to adventure
Hiking opened Umesh's eyes to adventure

It was this trip that essentially opened my eyes to a whole new world and a long list of other experiences and personal challenges.

At first, I was nervous. I was in a mad rush to gather all the correct equipment and had to rent gear last minute in Kathmandu, so I didn't feel the most prepared. But once we set off, my mind was at ease. 

The real challenge for me was giving up all my home comforts to sleep in basic, uncomfortable conditions. On the Everest Base Camp trek, I wasn't able to shower for over a week. Nights were often very cold, with temperatures dropping to below freezing and, inevitably, this took a toll on my physical and mental health after 12 days in those conditions. 

Umesh felt empowered on his hikes
Umesh felt empowered on his hikes

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Having said that, the immense and overpowering feeling of achievement made it all worthwhile, and, strangely, I couldn't wait to do it all over again.

Since then, I have been on many multi-day treks, pushing myself even further to complete more serious mountaineering pursuits, such as climbing Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro and various mountains in South America, such as Cotopaxi and Huayna Potosi.

Kilimanjaro was one of Umesh's most challenging hikes
Kilimanjaro was one of Umesh's most challenging hikes

Nature opened my eyes and gave me breathing space away from the stresses and strains of daily life that I didn't have access to previously. The often jaw-dropping and otherworldly views help you feel completely free, allowing you to be entirely present in the moment and at peace. 

I feel happier and more fulfilled since overhauling my life. I feel a greater sense of purpose, especially when I am with nature. 

Umesh hiked through sun and snow
Umesh hiked through sun and snow

That said, I do still enjoy working – and at 50, I plan to continue to work for many years to come, but I now have more balance and variety in my life. 

I feel empowered by the knowledge that there is so much more to experience, explore and uncover in the future – and that I now have the time to follow wherever the road will take me.

Umesh travelled with Flash Pack, adventure holidays for solo travellers

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