• Akshay Nanavati in Big Bend National Park.
  • Akshay Nanavati on an adventure in Colorado

2009 graduate Akshay Nanavati has tried mountaineering, caving and sky diving. But this spring he will undertake his longest and most ambitious expedition to date – a 342-mile ski crossing of Greenland.

Nanavati is going on the trip to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization.

“Their work is extremely inspiring,” Nanavati said. “They willingly go in to horrible conditions to try and serve other people who don’t have a choice to be there. It is a true testament to the humanity of others.”

Nanavati will make the ski crossing with a team of about six people led by a member of Pirhuk Greenland Expedition Specialists. He will have to drag a sled carrying all the supplies he needs to survive for just under a month.

In early February, Nanavati went to Oslo, Norway, to train for the expedition. He described it as an “amazing trip and training” that will prepare him for the time he will spend crossing the second largest ice cap in the world. A typical day during the ski crossing will consist of waking up early, melting snow for water, and skiing for five to 12 hours with only five to 10 minutes for lunch. After the team is done skiing, they will make camp for the evening where once again they will have freeze-dried food for dinner with water that is made from melting snow.

Nanavati hopes to raise $10 for every mile he will be skiing − a total of $3,420. Anyone interested in supporting Nanavati on the trip can do so at http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/greenland/crossing. Nanavati will be documenting the expedition on his blog at www.existing2living.com/blog.

Nanavati said his passion to begin exploring and challenging himself began in high school in Austin. “I had no sense of direction and was getting into some bad things,” he said. “That is when I saw ‘Black Hawk Down,’ and it just hit something in me. I started reading lots of books on it and the Medal of Honor recipients Gary Gordon and Randy Schughart, and I knew that was something I wanted to do.”

Nanavati withdraw from Southwestern and joined the U.S. Marines in April 2007. As a participant in Operation Iraqi Freedom, he got to be a part of working in a dynamic setting where he served “a higher purpose than yourself.” “I had to work for the group,” he said. “We saw people go out and sacrifice it all for other people.”

It was out of this sense of serving a higher purpose and wanting to sacrifice for others that Nanavati is trying to raise money through his ski expedition to donate to Doctors Without Borders.

Nanavati returned to Southwestern after his deployment and completed a degree in history with a minor in philosophy. He also earned a master’s degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Nanavati currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and volunteers with the local fire departments. He hopes to get his EMT certification soon and would like to work with Doctors Without Borders in the future.

After his Greenland expedition, he plans to take  courses for a life coaching program and hopes to go on several different expeditions, including a trip to the South Pole. He also is starting a business called Amara Adventures that will take people on expeditions around the world.

For more on Nanavati, visit his website at http://www.existing2living.com/.


- Isaac Bernal