Sudip Gautam, the young entrepreneur who revolutionized the Mardi Trekking Route into what it is today, has passed away. An accident took him. The 34-year-old slipped and fell while fixing a water pipe in Mardi High Camp on Sep 30, Friday. The very next day, his body was brought to West Regional Hospital via helicopter for postmortem.
Born and raised in Kaski, Gautam showed early signs of wanting to be in the hospitality business. He was fascinated by tourists who visited Kaski, and approached them while carrying bottled water and other drinks as conversation starters.
His aim had always been to go to Switzerland to pursue a degree in hospitality. He moved to Pokhara, the provincial capital, after completing his secondary education and continued his studies. He had always been good in school, scoring high marks, but that year he failed his exams for the first time. And that shattered his dream of going to Switzerland.
But he persevered and started over. Deciding he wanted to do something by himself, Gautam thought of opening his own teashop, in a barn owned by his father. He saw tourists struggling to spend the night in tents and caves, as the Mardi Trekking Route had not been properly established yet.
After the People’s Movement in 2006, Gautam established the tea shop at High Camp. Although a lot of tourists visited Annapurna Base Camp at the time, some came to Mardi, and found a resting spot at his quaint little place.
He used to make handwritten signs on the path of the Mardi Trekking Route for the convenience of tourists. But Gautam knew more could be done. He convinced his relatives to invest in houses around the Mardi Trekking Route. Taking loans from relatives and investing money sent by his father from Malaysia, Gautam decided to expand the teashop into an eight-room hotel.
Sixteen years later, Mardi Trekking Route is one of the most visited tourist areas of Nepal. It gives a 360 degree view of the mountain and is a relatively safe trail to reach Annapurna Base Camp. Gautam gained fame as a result of his perseverance in turning an abandoned path into a trekking route, which many thought was impossible. Many even call him ‘Mardi Sudip’. “He is the first to identify and promote the Mardi Trekking Route. The name is well deserved,” says Nirmala Kumari Neupane, executive director, International Mountain Museum, Pokhara.
According to Nima Nuru Sherpa, president, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Gautam was someone who always wanted to do something different. He made a huge contribution in the tourism sector of Nepal. “I’m saddened by the untimely loss of such a happy, energetic person.”