Mountain climbers using a ladder to cross a crevasse in the Ice Fall of Mount Everest.

Indian Army added another feather to its cap in May 2001, when its mountaineers successfully scaled Mount Everest and put a record eight members and seven Sherpas on the summit. This is the largest number of summiteers on Mount Everest in an Indian expedition.

The mighty mountain ranges of the Himalayas have, over the centuries, inspired not only man’s imagination and spiritual quest, but also his spirit of adventure. Mount Everest, the tallest of the peaks of the Himalayas as also the whole world, stood in its unattainable isolation for thousands of years, till Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary conquered it in 1953. Since then, at least a thousand climbers have set foot on it. That at least 200 have lost their lives while trying to scale the peak speaks of the infinite dangers involved in the task.

The Indian Army Mount Everest Expedition was flagged off by the Chief of the Army Staff on 1st March 2001 at New Delhi. It was led by Col. Krishan Kumar. After flagging off, the team moved to Nepal and after a long trek from Jiri, reached Base Camp of Everest on 3rd April 2001.

The stocking and establishment of various camps was completed by 10th May 2001 and summit attempts were planned for 14-15 May. However, bad weather forced the team to return to Base Camp from Camp-II. Weather remained bad for a few days. Finally on 19th May the team started from the Base Camp for their final attempt to reach the summit. On 20th May the first summit team reached Camp-HI and the next day they reached South Col around 1300 hours. The same night the summit attempt started. After making their way through severe winds and subfreezing conditions, the first party consisting of seven members and three Sherpas finally reached the summit of Everest on 23rd May between 0720 hours and 0845 hours. The second team comprising one member and four Sherpas left Camp-Ill around 0630 hours on 23rd May and reached the summit of Mount Everest around 0545 hours on 24th May 2001.

Smooth de-induction to the Base Camp was subsequently carried out wherein all the camps were closed. In keeping with the Indian Army’s care and concern for the protection of the environment, all waste was brought down from the mountain.

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