Saturday, March 5, 2016



Mountaineering Camp: 2nd February 1984 by Kalyani Raghunathan:
Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) is rated as one of the best mountaineering institutes in India and also considered as the most prestigious mountaineering institute in Asia.

The proposal to have a mountaineering Institute at Uttarkashi was mooted by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India and the Government of Uttar Pradesh in 1964.

Uttarkashi was specially selected as the home of NIM, primarily because of its close proximity to the Gangotri region in western garhwal, which undoubtedly has the best climbing and training potential in India and perhaps in the world. 

The Institute took shape in 1965 at the Provincial Armed Constabulary Campus at Gyansu on the north bank of the river Bhagirathi.

The present location, about 5 Km away across the Bhagitrathi River, was selected in 1970 by a team comprising Late Shri Harish Sarin (then Secretary), Captain M.S.Kohli and the architect, Mr. Rahman and NIM moved to its new location in 1974.

It is now located at 4300 AMSL in the Ladari Reserve Forest, amidst a dense pine forest, overlooking the sacred river and the valley of gods. It has a sprawling campus, spread over almost seven hectares of prime forest land. 

The Institute is headed by a Principal who is handpicked officer by the Ministry of Defence. It has Training and an Administrative wing. The Training Wing comprises of the Vice Principal, the Medical Officer, the intrepid NIM instructional and Kitchen staff. The Administrative Wing which deals with account, rations and equipment are looked after by the Registrar and the Equipment Officer, respectively.

The aim of the Institute is to introduce and initiate young men, women and school children to the mountains and nature through its various Mountaineering and Adventure courses.

Emphasis is laid on instilling the concept of Adventure and following conventional environmental guidelines to ensure environmental awareness and conservation
NIM was established at Uttarkashi on 14th Nov 1965 to honor the great desire of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who was an ardent mountain lover

he Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi is planning to conduct seven days (07 days) Preliminary Skiing course

Preliminary Skiing Course - Fee structure in Indian Currency
Indian                     Foreigner                      Students(Indian)
5000/-                     12000/-                          4000/-

Fee includes: Expenses on food, accommodation, equipment, transportation, medicines and other training expenses during the course.
Admission to Foreigners: Have to report to the Principal one day in advance along with the Passport and valid Visa for direct admission into a course, UDS 400 for adventure course and USD 800 each for remaining courses is to be paid as course fee.
Refund of Fee: Cancellation of seat 2 months earlier entitles refund of fee with 25% deduction.
Armed Forces & Para Military Personnel: Serving Armed forces, Para Military and NCC Personnel, should apply through their respective Service Headquarters and Departmental Channels. They can also however apply as private trainees.

Repetition of Course : The courses conducted in NIM are subsidized and the vacancies are limited. Repeating a course by an individual leads to denial of opportunity to someone else.

This Institute also conducts special courses for schools and establishments on full cost basis i;e. Rs 1200/- per individual per day for 15 days. These are open and anyone can apply for their confirmation.
Transfer of Seat: Request of transfer of seat on compassionate ground may be considered only once. No Refund of fee is permitted thereafter.
Arrival: Trainees must arrive an evening before commencement of the course, also late arrivals even by a day will not be permitted to join the course.
Forms should be submitted through registered post on the following address:-
The principal
Nehru institute of mountaineering
Uttarkashi (uttarakhand)-249 193.

On receipt of Form and Training Fee Applicant will be informed by us by Email/Telephone on Provisional basis and will be subsequently informed for final date on short notice.   
Trainees must arrive an evening before commencement of course. Late arrivals even by one day will not be permitted to join the course.

Let us know some our  kendriya vidyalayas teacher experience when they went training for  Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi. We were at the mountaineering camp and were very excited. Twenty of us were teachers from Kendriya Vidyalayas.

There were other women from banks and other institutions. Today was the second day of the camp. In the morning as I got out of bed and put my foot down, I screamed in pain.

I remembered yesterday’s 26 kilometre walk with the heavy rucksack on
my back. I was afraid to go back to that steep climb and the rough narrow path.

With tears in my eyes I started walking slowly towards the room of Brigadier Gyan Singh, the Director of our adventure course. I was thinking of what I would say to excuse myself from that day’s trek. Suddenly, I heard his deep voice from behind.

“Madam, what are you doing here at breakfast time? Hurry up! Otherwise you will have to trek on an empty stomach.”

“Sir, Sir….,” I could not say any more. “You have came to tell me that you have blisters on your feet, that you cannot walk, isn’t it?” “Yes, sir.” “That is nothing new. Now get ready quickly.”

I hung my head and rushed back to get ready. I had just turned when I heard his voice again, “Listen, madam. You will lead group number 7. You will have to help any member who has difficulty climbing the mountain. You have already been told about the responsibilities of a group leader in the mountains.”

A big responsibility:
I started thinking about what a leader must do:
Help others in carrying their bags.
Let the group go ahead and keep to the last.
Help those who cannot climb properly.
Find a good place to stop and rest.
Look after those who are not well.
Arrange for food for the group.

The most important thing is to be ready to be punished even when some one else may have made a mistake. I realised that there was a special kind of discipline here. I wondered whether the camp will still be fun!

Group No: 7
Group No. 7 included girls from Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland. I was the only teacher from Kendriya Vidyalaya in this group. I was happy to meet my new group members.

Most of them could not speak Hindi well. I still feel bad that after being together for 21 days, I could not talk even once with Khondonbi from Mizoram. She spoke only Mizo. But in our hearts we grew close to each other.

Crossing the river:
We got vitamin C, iron tablets and hot chocolate milk with our breakfast. These were given for strength and to keep us warm in the cold. Every morning there would be a medical check up. We tied our bandages and counted the days left!

After an eight kilometre trek we reached a river. There was a thick rope tied across the river, from one bank to the other. The rope was tightly fixed to pegs or ‘pitons’ on both the sides. I was feeling nervous. I started thinking what would happen if the rope came out. I was trying to estimate how wide the river was.

Our instructor tied a rope around his waist and put a sling (type of hook) in it. He then put the sling on the thick rope tied across the river. Walking through the icy water, he went to the other side.

No one was ready to step into the fast flowing river. Everyone was pushing each other to go first. I stood last in the line hoping that no one would see me.

Just then our instructor came near me with the sling and rope in his hands. I knew there was no escape now. I was ready, but did not have the courage. Sir could guess my fears. He called out loudly, “Three cheers for Sangeeta madam!” And before I knew it, someone had gently pushed me into the water.

I felt as if my feet were frozen. I started shivering, my teeth were chattering. I caught hold of the rope and started putting my feet firmly on the river bed.

As I walked further in, the river got deeper and slowly the water reached upto my neck. In the middle of the river I lost my balance and started slipping. I was so scared and felt so cold, that the rope slipped from my hands. I started shouting for help.

I was sure I would be carried away by the river. But no, I found that I was tied with the rope to the sling. “Hold the rope! Hold the rope”, I could hear the shouts. I somehow managed to get hold of the rope and pull myself forward.

Slowly, with some courage, I reached the river bank. I felt a special kind of happiness as I came out of the water. Happiness on finishing a challenging task. Now, standing on the bank, I was calling out to the others to hold the rope tightly. I knew that this confidence was a result
of facing a challenge with courage.

Rock climbing:
We had to climb 15 km to reach Tekla village. It was at a height of 1600 metres. Our rucksacks had all that we may need – food packets, water bottle, rope, hook, plastic sheet, diary, torch, towel, soap, windcheater, whistle, glucose, jaggery, chana and some other snacks.

We could see fruits and vegetables growing in the step fields. We saw Colonel Ram Singh standing on a 90 metres high flat rock with pegs and ropes.

We had been told to first observe the rock carefully and identify holds – places where we can put our hands and feet. Today I was not going to back out.

I stood first in the line. Our instructor tieda rope around his waist. He put the sling, and held the thick rope which was hanging. He started climbing as if he was running up.

I also put my sling. But as I took my first step, I slipped. And there I was – swinging from the rope! “Keep your body at an angle of 90° while
climbing,” I heard. “Keep your back straight.
Do not bend.”
Keeping this in mind, I imagined the rock as flat ground and started to climb up. Again while coming down we had to use the rope, in a special way called ‘rapling.’ I did this with the same fearlessness.

A funny incident:
It was evening. Khondonbi was feeling hungry. We did not have anything to eat. She jumped over the fence and got into a field. She quickly plucked two big cucumbers and came back.

Just then a woman came from behind and caught hold of her bag. She started saying something to Khondonbi in her own language. We could not understand what she was saying.

Khondonbi was trying to explain in her Mizolanguage which we could not understand. I tried to explain in Hindi but neither of them could understand it. Finally, I folded my hands to say that we were sorry.

By then our group had gone far ahead. It was already dark. I thought we had lost our way. Now we were really scared. We could not see anything even with our torches.

I started sweating even though it was cold. I tightly held Khondonbi’s hand. I called out loudly, “Where are you all? Can you hear me?” My voice echoed in the mountains.

We both started to whistle loudly and flashed our torches. Probably the group had noticed that we were missing. We heard some whistles at a distance. I understood the signal.

We held each other's hand tightly and waited. Khondonbi felt that we should keep talking. She started singing a Mizo song loudly. After some time, we saw them coming towards us. At last! We were with the group again.

A special guest:
After dinner we met a special guest – Bachhendri Pal. She had just been
Up You Go! 83 selected as a part of the team to climb Mount Everest. She had come to seek the blessings of Brigadier Gyan Singh. It was a happy evening – we were all singing.

Bachhendri also joined us in singing and dancing on the famous Pahadi song ‘Bedu Pako, bara masa, kafal pako chaita, meri chhaila.’ At that time we had no idea that Bachhendri would become the first Indian woman to reach Mount Everest and create history.

Camp in the snow:
We were standing at a height of 2134 meters. We were to spend the night here. Everyone was busy trying to put up the tent. We used double layered plastic sheets for the tent and for the ground.

The air between the layers would help to keep us warm. We put in the pegs and began to put up the tent. As we tied it from one side, the wind flew the tent from the other side.

After quite a lot of pulling and tugging, we managed to get the tent up. Then we dug a drain around the tent. We were feeling very hungry. We collected some firewood and stones to make a chulha and cooked some food.

After the meal, we collected all the waste in a bag to clean the camp site. Soon we got into our sleeping bags. I was not sure if I would be able to sleep in it. Would it be comfortable?

Would I not feel cold? But the bags were filled with soft feathers, which help in keeping us warm. We were all very tired. So very soon we fell asleep.

The next morning we woke up and found that it was snowing. White soft fluffy snowflakes were gently falling. Wow! It was so beautiful ! The plants, the trees, the grass and the mountains – everything looked white.

Today we were to climb higher, to 2700 metres. We walked carefully on the snow with the help of sticks. It was difficult because we kept slipping. By afternoon we had reached snow covered mountains. We enjoyed throwing snowballs at each other and making a big snowman.

Last day at camp:
We were getting ready for the camp fire. Each group presented a programme. We were enjoying – telling jokes and laughing, singing and dancing around the camp fire. Soon it was midnight.

Brigadier Gyan Singh got up and called me. I thought, “Oh, no!
what have I done this time?” But when Sir announced my name for the ‘Best Performance Award’ I stood still. He blessed me and tears of joy rolled down my face.

Alone on the mountain top
A twelve-year old girl living in the mountains was out on a school picnic. She climbed a mountain peak of 4000 metres with her friends. The girls had done this for fun and adventure. Soon it was dark and they could not come down. It was also cold and scary.

They were alone without any food and it was a long night. This happened to Bachhendri Pal, played when she was a young girl. Bachhendri grew up in Nakuri village in the Garhwal area of Uttarakhand.

When she grew older, she joined Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi. Her guide was Brigadier Gyan Singh. Bachhendri did very well in her training. She started to train women in mountaineering courses. In 1984, Bachhendri was selected as a team member to climb the Mount Everest.

Snow storm:
There were seven women in that 18 member team. On the night of 15th May the team was very tired after having reached a height of 7300 metres. The team put up their tents and went to sleep. Around midnight they heard a loud sound and then a bang.

Before they were fully awake, the tent flew off and something very heavy hit them. There was a terrible snow storm. Bachhendri was almost buried under the snow and was hurt on the head. Many of the team members were also injured. The others used snow-picks and axes to dig out those who had been buried under the snow.

The rest of the team members returned to base camp but Bachhendri went ahead, climbing slowly but steadily towards the peak. It was seven minutes past one o’clock in the afternoon of 23th May when Bachhendri Pal stepped onto the peak of 8900 metre high Mount Everest also called Sagarmatha in Nepal.

There was another team member with her. There was no space for two people to stand on the top at the same time. One slip and they would fall straight down-thousands of feet below! Bachhendri and her team-mate dug into the snow and pitched their axe firmly in the ice. Using this as a hook, they tied themselves to it with a rope.

 Only then two of them could stand there. She was shivering with cold but filled with the warmth of achievement. She bowed her head, pitched the national flag and took photographs. She spent 43 minutes on the highest peak in the world. Bachhendri Pal became the first Indian woman and the fifth woman in the world to reach the peak of Mount Everest.



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