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World record: Himalayan mountaineering team traverses between Mt Kang Yatse peaks

World record: Himalayan mountaineering team traverses between Mt Kang Yatse peaks

Darjeeling: The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling has created a world record. While on an expedition to Mt Kang Yatse 1 and 2 in Ladakh, a three-member team traversed between the two peaks.

"In the past, there have been attempts by the German, Italian and Russian teams to traverse between the two peaks but the attempts were not successful," stated Wing Commander Devidutta Panda, vice-principal, HMI. Panda, who is the team leader, is an Everester.

On August 17, team 1 and team 2 comprising 9 members each had summited Kang Yatse 1 (6401m) and Kang Yatse 2 (6250m) respectively. "The initial plan was that both the teams would start traversing after the summit and crisscross each other on the knife ridge that connects the two peaks. However, after reaching Kang Yatse 1, the weather condition turned very bad with snow, high wind and zero visibility. While Team 1 decided to forgo traversing from peak 1 to 2, Team 2 decided to attempt traversing from Peak 2 to 1. They succeeded and created history," added the Wing Commander.

The three-member team completed the 1.7 km traversing in 6 hours amidst extreme difficulties and low visibility.

The three-member team consisted of Pawel Sharma, Passang Tenzing and Girish Singh. "It was extremely difficult as the ridge was jagged and difficult for a single person to stand upright. It consisted of loose rocks, ice and snow," stated Sharma, an HMI instructor. Sharma summited Mount Everest in 2012 and Mount Makalu in 2009.

"We did not use any fixed rope and carried out sequential climb in the Alpine-styled of climbing which is very effective," added Sharma. It must be learnt that this expedition was the first alpine-styled expedition of HMI. "We did not use fixed ropes to traverse," stated Sharma. In sequential climbing, one member climbs as the second gives belay. Once the first member reaches the top of the pitch, the first member gives belay to the other members. "We not only broke the record but also indulged in sensible climbing. None was hurt or injured. The expedition was successful. We left no garbage and instead collected garbage left behind by others and brought it back to Leh," added the team leader.

The planned expedition budget was around Rs 13 lakh whereas the incurred expenditure was around Rs. 12.4 lakh. Along with this, the expedition procured assets for the institute including solar panel and controller; parachute material for kitchen and training shed; duffel bags, drums and packing material.

The HMI had tied up with the IMD for daily weather reports and the Indian Air Force for speedy evacuation in case of emergencies.

The expedition had left Darjeeling on August 1 and returned on September 1. It was flagged off by SA Babam, principal secretary, department of Youth Services and Sports, West Bengal on Friday.

The successful ascent of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953, by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary, was a major boost to mountaineering in India. One year after this, historical event the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was established on November 4, 1954 — a result of personal initiative of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr BC Roy to promote mountaineering in India.

The HMI in its sixty-four years of existence has trained approximately 40,000 personnel, including 2,000 overseas trainees. Since 1954, the Institute has organized 13 mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayan regions and overseas, including the Alps.

Amitava Banerjee

Amitava Banerjee

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