24 April 2017

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An Entrepreneur from the Mountains: Thinlas Chorol

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Thinlas ChorolThis is the story of a simple village girl born in the remote village of Takmachik in Sham region of Ladakh. What began as an idea of proving one's worth in the Ladakhi society, culminated with the birth of Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company, the first woman-owned and operated travel company in Ladakh.

Thinlas points out that her love for the mountains was the primary reason she chose her passion as her career. After facing tremendous challenges as a woman out to uphold her work in a men’s domain, it was the guiding words of  Sonam Wangchuk (Director of SECMOL) that helped her develop her vision and establish herself as the most experienced female trekker of Ladakh. SECMOL (Students Education and Culture Movement of Ladakh) is an organization that helps educate children from remote regions of Ladakh. Thinlas was a student here.

The trekker’s journey began in 2004 when she joined SECMOL’s travel agency ALS (Around Ladakh with Students). Simultaneously, she completed a basic mountaineering course and an 80-day semester course through NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) in Ranikhet. All of this was possible thanks to her English teacher Becky, who sponsored her courses.

Thinlas admits that it was never easy to break the glass ceiling because trekking and hiking is always considered a physical job suitable only for men. Her initial encounters with travel operators in Ladakh proved this right when tour operators hesitated to give her tough trek routes.

A bronze medal winner in National Ice Hockey Championship 2006 and Ladakhi Women’s Writer Award winner in 2008, Thinlas continued her journey as a freelance guide and instructional aide for NOLS.

It was while trekking through the rough terrains of Ladakh with Indian and foreign trekkers that Thinlas Chorol decided to set up Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company. The organization is operated and run by an all-women staff. Together with her team, Thinlas helps like-minded women develop confidence to encounter challenges on treks and in their daily lives. At her company, women trekkers take tourists to guided treks of Markha Valley, Hemis National Park, and Zanskar Range.

Ladakh is a different world. According to Thinlas, women in Ladakh are coy and lack confidence. These two are the primary reasons why Ladakhi trekkers are not taken seriously. Having faced these concerns herself, Thinlas has learnt to overcome them. Her company aims to help women take successful trips on the mountains as well as in real life.

Her mission is to develop a society where women have no fear and they can venture into rigorous treks. And her sincere recommendation for aspiring women entrepreneurs is to be confident and strong.

It’s a story almost out of a film. And the grit and determination is for everyone to learn!

 



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