Explorer and author Garry Weare.
This adventurer and author's heartplace is the Himalayas.
Q You led your first trek in Kashmir in 1973. Why there?
A I went to Kashmir to teach in 1970. Having a little time on my hands, I undertook my first trek. I was immediately taken aback by the camaraderie of the local crew who accompanied us as we climbed trails through conifer forests to lush alpine meadows where we shared camps with Gujar shepherds. All beneath the awesome backdrop of majestic snow-capped peaks. It was a life-changing experience and provided the impetus to change my vocation and lead my first trek.
Q Fast-forward 40 years and about 25,000 kilometres of trekking, you're leading a group deep into Ladakh in winter searching for snow leopards. Why that cat?
A About 15 years ago I glimpsed this elusive cat slowly ascending a scree slope to the margins of the snow line. Since then, I've had an abiding interest. Recent experiences with my friends from the Snow Leopard Conservancy have encouraged me to lead this trip.
Q You're the Australian Himalayan Foundation's executive director. What's the most useful project it has undertaken?
A Our flagship nine-year teacher-training program is helping to improve the education of more than 50,000 children. The program extends the work in Nepal's Solu Khumbu region pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary.
Q Best travel advice you've ever received?
A The pursuit of a particular interest or passion will bring its own rewards. Exploration, for instance, of an alpine valley deep in the Himalaya may take a lifetime or more to complete.
Q Worst accommodation you've endured?
A During Ramadan, 2008, sharing a flea-infested government-run dormitory with an ABC Foreign Correspondent film crew in a less-than-enchanting village while travelling to the Zanskar region of Ladakh.
Q Favourite carbs and proteins at altitude?
A Rice, dhal and vegetable curry washed down with a single malt or two.
Garry Weare leads a fund-raising trek in Ladakh on February 16-March 3, 2013. See australianhimalayanfoundation.org.au.