Aluva’s Geethu Mohandas is one of the 20 ordinary individuals to have been shortlisted from across the globe, to participate in the 300 kilometre dog sled trek in the Arctic wilderness.
Kerala’s Geethu Mohandas is set to create history. She is the first Indian woman to have been selected for a trip to the Arctic with the Fjallraven Polar team.
Fjallraven Polar is an international polar expedition where a group of 20 ordinary individuals are selected from across the globe to venture into 300 kilometre of Arctic wilderness. Out of the 20 enthusiasts shortlisted for the dog sled trek, 10 were handpicked through a panel, and the remaining 10 were selected through a global online voting mechanism. The latter involved dividing the world into 10 zones and selecting individuals who get the highest number of votes from each zone. Expenses for the expedition are covered by trekking equipment manufacturing company, Fjallraven.
Hailing from the small town of Aluva in Kerala’s Ernakulam district, Geethu was selected through global voting. She got the third highest number of votes among 60 countries.
Dreaming a dream
Geethu has always been a nature camp enthusiast. She attended her first camp in Class 5, where she had to travel to Palakkad district.
She moved to Bengaluru in 2015 for work, and started a sustainable and responsible tourism group. Bringing a handful of people from across India together, Geethu would travel every weekend. Soon, she converted her passion into her profession by launching a travel startup ‘Let’s go for a camp’. She has so far conducted more than 100 trips across Uttarakhand, Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand.
After learning about the Fjallraven Polar team from Kollam’s Niyog Krishnan, a participant of 2018’s trek, Geethu started researching about the trek. Since the trek is meant for “ordinary people”, Geethu didn’t hesitate to apply for it.
On January 7, she was announced as one of the shortlisted candidates.
However, her testing time was not over with the selection itself. Geethu faced a major challenge after her name was announced in the list of selected candidates. When the results were announced, Fjalllraven disqualified a few contestants for indulging in toxic campaigning and dirty deeds.
Geethu was constantly attacked by the fan base of other Indian contestants and for being a woman. She considered backing out and not participating in the trek. But determined to fulfil her dream of traveling to the Arctic, and with support from her friends, she decided to fight the battle.
According to media reports, Geethu said that this move by her would encourage more Indian women to participate in the expedition.
Since 1997, when Fjallraven Polar was first started, participants have faced challenges including blizzards and temperatures that dip down till minus 30 degree Celsius. The trek is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, testing the limits of participants and Geethu will raise the bar for Indian women.