How Kuntal Joisher Scaled Mount Everest Without Using Animals
The dedicated vegan reached the top of the tallest mountain in the world once already, but the second time he had something even more to prove
“Mountaineer by passion, vegan by compassion,” reads the bio on Kuntal Joisher’s Instagram profile. When this 39-year-old vegan mountaineer from Mumbai, India, stood at 29,029 feet on the summit of Mount Everest on May 23, 2019, it was his second time at the top of the world. Three years earlier he had scaled the world’s tallest mountain along its south face from Nepal and became the first to do so on a plant-based diet. This time, he climbed the mountain’s north face from Tibet, using only vegan equipment.
“I wanted to attempt the summit again because I felt that I didn’t finish the project that I had started,” he explains. “During my first summit in 2016, my diet was 100 percent vegan but my equipment wasn’t. For me, [veganism is] more than a diet, so it was important for me to complete this goal by not using anything made of animals.”
While Kuntal was making his way to Everest along its north face, Dean Maher, a vegan climber from Australia, was also attempting a completely vegan climb from the south side, reaching the summit on May 16. It was a victory for vegans on Everest this year, but one that was shadowed by a high death toll: 12 climbers died on Everest during the 2019 climbing season. Climbers need a high level of physical fitness as well as mental stamina to achieve the mountaineer’s ultimate goal of reaching the world’s highest peak. They can find themselves at the mercy of unpredictable weather conditions, and have to face the risks of debilitating altitude sickness and frostbite that can result in lost fingers or toes.
Vegans are so scrutinized. If I didn’t reach Everest and come back down safely then my diet would have been to blame.
Kuntal first set out to conquer Everest in 2014, an attempt that was aborted by a deadly…