Lt. Col. Romil Barthwal (Retd.) is an adventurer in the true sense. He is a Trekker, an Endurance-Runner and Super Randonneur in Brevets (cycling). As far as adverture sports are concerned, Romil has left no stone unturned. He has actively pursued a host of adventure sports including Bungee jumping, Duathlons, kayaking, paramotoring, parasailing, paragliding, & para trooping.
Further – Romil is a certified white water rafting course expert. He has also completed 13 mountaineering expeditions as the team leader culminating with summiting the mighty Mount Everest in May 2019.
“Since I joined the Army at the age of 18, I attribute everything in my life to the Indian Army-from wearing clothes to leading a team to Mount Everest. My 22 years of experience in the Indian Army includes service in the elite Special Forces”, Says Romil, CEO of India’s top high altitude Mountaineering company, Boots & Crampons (B&C).
Romil : A Story of Resilience
“I was disappointed with my academic performance as I graduated with third division from the National Defence Academy, Pune. I was very poor in academics, under performer in cross country, failed in mountain expeditions, volunteered three times to become a paratrooper but was rejected. Instead of giving up,I kept trying harder. The turning point came when I was selected for the M Tech course at IIT. This changed my life’s story – from a failure to revival. It boosted my self-confidence tremendously. The rest is history.
To my mind, endurance and creativity have no limits and barriers if a person is resilient enough. I worked hard to complete MTech. (I.T.) from IIT Kharagpur. This made me realise my self-worth and there was no looking back thereafter. My papers got published in international conferences & journals of repute”, explains Romil, who is also an award-winning alumnus of IIM Lucknow.
“I Started running long distance, 10kms, Half Marathons, Marathons, Cycling Super Randonneur, Half Ironman, Rafting and so on. Some of my most memorable achievements include:
• Participation in worlds most reputed Boston Marathon in 2017
• La Ultra is one of the most difficult high altitude ultramarathon from Sumur to Leh via khardungla pass (at an altitude of 3500m). I was Team Captain and record holder in the non-Ladakhi category for 111 km run.
• In New Delhi stadium run, I covered 185 km in 24hour and secured second position.
After jumping out of aircraft and endurance events I discovered mountains, as new found love. As a team leader of mountaineering expeditions, safety of team members, environment, honour of the Nation comes before own interests. For my mission to Mount Everest I was prepared to the extent that it was OK if I lose fingers or toes! but mission should not suffer! I narrate my story as #8848 failures in the journey to reach at the top of the world.”
Lt. Col. Romil, a paratrooper with maroon beret, was part of Op Vijay and Kargil and
Many years later, he was decorated with ‘The EME Blue Award’ for outstanding contribution to Adventure sports in 2019.
Mountaineering : No shortcuts to the top
“My message to youth of today is, “take things as they come, follow your heart. Do not fear failure, it is good to fail. Life is unique, make most of it. Go out, travel, trek and climb, you will realise you have become a better person. Our family did our first trek to Nagtibba in Uttrakhand, which is 3022m.
One must trek with new groups and friends. It develops great bonding and an eye for precision. The planning to negotiate scarcity of resources enhances your survival skills. In the process you will learn to ignore trivial discomforts in real life too.
Absolutely clean atmosphere, distinct habitat, flora and fauna will take your breath away. Living in tents, confronting extreme weather conditions, walking past on most dangerous roads and bridges are memories no camera can capture enough. Above all it elucidates the importance of teamwork, risk-taking and never give up attitude.”
Mountaineering Training in India
Mountaineering and trekking have a very bright future after Corona pandemic people are learning to live and not just exist. It is not a lucrative career but it is extremely rewarding to the mind and heart. There are government institutes – like NIM, JIM &WS, ABVIMAS, HMI etc., which conduct courses at subsidized rates but have long waiting times.
It is an expensive sport as you need quality products, special clothing and life-saving equipment. Some people do crowd sourcing and manage sponsorships to follow their passion.
A lot goes behind climbing, it starts with proper courses and training. You start with small peaks and gradually increase the height. You progress with good teamwork, camaraderie, leadership, trust and learning from others. Mountain tests you in more than one way, your last ounce of patience and courage. You will use all your life skills. It takes 90 % of mental toughness and only 10% of physical fitness to ascent.
There are times of tough decision making but the interest of team is paramount. When to climb, team selection, day of climb, rotation of climb, who is in or out are hard decisions.
My company aims to help climbers accomplish their potential in an ethical, cost-effective and environment friendly manner. I plan to build up B&C a top mountaineering and trek company. We conduct multiple expeditions in Africa, Argentina, Russia, Australia, Nepal and India. B&C holds a 100% safety record in high altitude expeditions. The mountaineers as young as 7-year-old to 62 years including three amputee climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak of Africa, with us”.
So if you think mountains are your calling, or Trekking in the wilderness and scaling the snow peak Himalayan ranges entice you, you can leave the comfort and luxury to get that view from the top! You have an expert leader to help you realise your passion.
A great motivational speaker and a role model for many fitness & adventure enthusiasts, Romil can be contacted at
Photo & Article Credit : Lt. Col. Romil (Retd.)
Special Mention : Mr Puneet Mathur