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Mt Everest- First Successful Indian ascent from North Col (1996)

Mount Everest is a challenge to man spirit. Nature in the raw in all its bounty, wild, unfettered and beautiful, beyond description. T he world’s highest mountain peak the Everest was known in the Western world as Peak 15. To the Nepalese population it was known as Sagarmatha which is the Summit Of Heaven. To the Tibetan people people it was Mt Chomolungma meaning the mother goddess of the land.

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In honour of Sir George Everest, the surveyor General of India of India it was renamed Everest by the British in 1865. The attraction of the Everest for mountaineers is undeniable and the climbing season short if they are are to avoid, the freezing temperatures. Temperature scales and deep snows that characterize the mountain for most of the year.

Although many attempts to reach its Summit have ended in failure and sometimes death for the expedition members, climber’s remain undeterred. In recent years there has been successfull attempts by climber’s from all over the world, including teams of women or those who have chosen not to use oxygen. Climber’s continue to attempt the ultimate Summit with very little difference between life and death and with a high degree of risk involved at every step, the mountaineers fights all odds- the vagories of the weather and extreme climate trying to tackle the toughest of challenges .

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The ITBP has an enviable record having climbed more than 102 mountain peaks including 42 peaks never climbed before. Being known as the elite force in the world, the ITBP accepted this challenge and launched the expedition from the China side in 1996. The expedition team had 25 climbers- 20 from the Indo Tibetan Border Police including 3 ladies, the other members including 1 each from the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Reserve Police Force, 2 from the Punjab Police and 1 Mongolian climber.

Under the benign guidance of the DG ITBP, the official supervision of Diwakar Prasad IG – Headquaters and at the instance of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India these climber’s took to the challenge of scaling the Everest the world’s highest peak in 1996.

When preparation started in Delhi, it was time to workout to transportation priorities, vital equipment and stores had added up to as much as 15 ton which were inspected, packed and loaded. Cylinders of cooking gas, the latest type of oxygen cylinders, excellent quality climbing equipment, generators, tents, mattresses and sleeping bag, medical supplies and ofcourse tined and raw food to suit different tastes and requirements were put together after months of meticulous planning and preparation. The best equipments to sute the need of the expedition were imported from other countries the help of the Indian Mountaineering Federation.

Having been flagged off on the 18th March, the team comprising 30 members left Delhi on the 22nd March 1996 for Kathmandu in Nepal. They entered Tibet on 30th March 1996 to be greeted warmly by Chinese official at the Nepal China border friendship Bridge. Before attempting the ardous terrain members offered a customary Pooja to seek blessings of the almighty at the temple in Kathmandu and Rangbuk at the height of 16500 feet which is considered to be the highest Buddhist monastery near the base camp. They prayed for the success of the mission, the well being of members and their safe return. The official tradition of offering a prayer was also kept alive at the monastery in China.

A base camp was set up on the Rangbuk Glacier at the altitude of 17200 feet on the 5th of April . A customary Pooja was also performed at the base camp for the success of the mission. Later on 6 higher camps will also set up. The first camp was established above the base camp on the 7th of April at a height of 18500 feet. Camp 2 was established on the 8th of April at 19100 feet. As the team moved further, at 21400 feet, camp 3 was established on 10th of April which was an advanced base camp. The advance base camp was the main centre of expedition activities from where all Logistic and meticulous planning was formulated by the leader. A Satellite Inmar Sat communication was also installed for the first time by the Indian Mountaineering expedition team. Planning future moves strategically, camp 4 was set up on the 19th of April at 23100 feet.

The route involved painstaking planning and physical endurance to negotiate the most favourable North East Rig route which is badly affected by furious stroms and snow cyclones. One of the most difficult Rocky routes, mixed with steep slope on the high reaches, was a challenge to the climbers potential. The lack of oxygen coupled with the thin air as the mountaineer proceeded posed a serious threat was only to endurance of these climbers but even to their lives. Heavy wind never allows snow to accumulate on the North face and one has negotiate steep frozen rocks and clay. But the climbers move on Inch By Inch on his spikes towards his destination with indomitable spirit. Camp 5 and camp 6 were established 25750 ft. And 27300 ft. on the 3rd and 9th of May respectively. All camps were fully equipped and stores were dumped.

The selection of the assault team at this stage is the most discisive factors in the success or failure of the final assault. The assault teams are a combination of all sorts of climbers who form a Perfect Combination of mountaineers of man with a cool temperament, patience and to top it all men with perfect climbing abilities.

With a combination of such climbers an assault team for the first Summit attempt was launched as scheduled on 10th of May 1996. The three climber namely T. Samanla, Shuang Pulzor and Dorjemuru made a determined effort and reached the top of Mount Everest at 6 p.m.

ITBP created landmark in history of Indian Mountaineering, this moment of Glory and achievement was convey to the Prime Minister through satellite communication. The eminence of the first Ascent was however short lived, the 3 Summiteers lost their lives on the way back due to a deadly blizzard and high velocity winds. These men of valour sacrifice their life in the pursuit of glory and achievement. Normally such a fatal mishap causes demoralization in the expedition team, but for the team members this sacrifice served​ as a source of inspiration and they took this up as a challenge to give life to the dreams of these Martyrs. With their patience and courage the team members assured the nation that the spirit of the expedition would not be dampened by the loss of 3 lives and prove themselves true by successfully scaling the dream peak and establish the credibility of the force.

As a defeating tribute to the 3 Brave mountaineers, the next summit party comprising Havaldar Sange Sherpa, Havaldar Hira Ram, Nayak Tashi ram, Nadre Sherpa and Sherpa portar once again hoisted the Indian tricolour on the top of world on the 17th of May 1996 at 9:55 a.m. They marched forward till success touch their feet despite narrow blushes with life and death.

While appreciating the historical glory brought to the nation by the gallant ITBP mountaineers, His Excellency Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma the then President of India congratulated the team creating a landmark in the field of Mountaineering. The team received the heartious congratulation from Director General, IG Headquarters, Officers of the ITBP, the Cabinet Secretary and the entire country.

We cannot but marvel this Man of Steel and their indomitable spirit for having brought laurels to the Indian Tibetan Border Police. With every step traversing deep bottomless crevices, steep frozen ice hole and facing natural celebrities by strom, snow fall and blizzard, these mountaineers give proof of their commitment to the ITBP Moto- Shaurya Dridhta Karmanishtha.

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And before the sounds of victory fade away to be seen only in the books of Mountaineering history, the countries salute the Indian Tibetan Border Police and their members for bringing Name, Fame & Glory to the country.

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