HARISH KAPADIA began climbing and trekking in the range around Bombay, the Western Ghats. His first visit to the Himalaya was almost 50 years ago. He has never looked back since, still trekking and climbing actively. His main contribution to Himalayan climbing has been to explore unknown areas and, in number of cases, to open up climbing possibilities. Some of his major ascents have been of Devtoli (6788 m), Bandarpunch West (6102 m), Parilungbi (6166 m), and, Lungser Kangri (6666 m) the highest peak of Rupshu in Ladakh. He led six major international joint expeditions, four with the British and two with the French, one with the Japanese, to high peaks, like Rimo (7385 m), Chong Kumdan I (7071 m), Sudarshan Parbat (6507 m), Panch Chuli (6904 m) and Rangrik Rang (6553 m) and Padmanabh (7030 m) on the Siachen Glacier.
Earlier, in 1974 he fell in a crevasse at 6200 m, deep inside the formidable Nanda Devi Sanctuary. He was carried by his companions for 13 days to the base camp where an helicopter rescued him. He was operated for a dislocated hip-joint and had to spend two year walking on crutches. But that did not keep him out for too long and he has climbed for four decades after the injury.
Harish has a degree in Commerce, Law and Management from Bombay University and he was a cloth merchant by profession. He retired from business in 2000 and since has been climbing and exploring the Himalaya more vigorously.
He has published fifteen books. His Trek The Sahyadris has now become a standard reference for all trekkers in the Western Ghats. His other books, Exploring the Hidden Himalaya (with Soli Mehta) and High Himalaya Unknown Valleys and Meeting The Mountains, Into the Untravelled Himalaya cover his various trips to the Himalaya, while Spiti Adventures in the Trans-Himalaya, cover climbing and trekking in that region. He was the editor of the prestigious Himalayan Journal for almost 35 years, bringing the journal to international standards and continuing it as a major authentic reference on the range.
He was elected the Honorary Member of the Alpine Club, London and almost all major Alpine Clubs in the world. He was a Vice President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (1997-1999). He was awarded the IMF Gold Medal by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in 1993. In 2003, Her Majesty the Queen approved the award of the Patron’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society to him. He has received many major awards, including the King Albert Medal and the Tensing Norgay Award by the President of India, the highest Adventure award of India.
Harish was invited to many countries to lecture on his Himalayan exploits, and is a member of several organisations. He is married, and lives in Bombay.
His son Lt. Nawang Kapadia, who was commissioned on 2nd September, 2000 in the Fourth Battalion of the Third Gorkha Rifles, Indian Army, died while gallantly fighting Pakistan based terrorists in the jungles of Rajwar in Kupwara district of Srinagar, Kashmir, on 11th November, 2000. Since then Harish Kapadia has taken to lecturing about this conflict, particularly in the Siachen Glacier. He has been discussing a proposal for a peace park for Siachen and cleaning up the environmental damage there, in the memory of his son.
The family maintains Nawang’s web-memorial at www.nawang.com .