" Some mountaineers are proud of having done all their climbs without bivouac. How much they have missed ! And the same applies to those who enjoy only rock climbing, or only the ice climbs, onyl the ridges or faces. We should refuse none of the thousands and one joys that the mountains offer us at every turn. We should brush nothing aside, set no restrictions. We should experience hunger and thirst, be able to go fast, but also to go slowly and to contemplate." -Gaston R-ffat (1921-985).
1. Harish Kapadia is one of the most distinguished Himalayan mountaineer. Of his 33 climbs, following 21 are First Ascents- Devtoli (6788m), Kalabaland Dhura (6105m), Koteshwar II (5690m)(Garhwal), Lagma (5761m), Zumto (c.5800m), Tserip (c.5980m), Kawu (c.5910m) (Spiti), Bandarpunch West (6102m) (Garhwal), Runse (6175m), Gyadung (6160m), Geling (c. 6100m), Lama Kyent (c.6040m), Labrang (c.5900m)(Spiti), Nandi (5795m)(Garhwal), Laknis (6235m), Panchali Chuli (5220m), Draupadi (5250m)(Kumaon), Mangla (5800m), Kunda(5240m)(Kinnaur), Lungser Kangri (6666m) and Bhagat Peak (5650m) (Garhwal). His other climbs include Jatropani (4071m), Ikulari (6059m), Bethartoli Himal South (6318m) (Garhwal), Shiti Dhar (5290m)(H.P.), Yada (4115 m), Jalsu (4298 m) (H.P.), Kalanag(6387m), Parilungbi (6166m), Chogam (6250m), Skyang (5770m) (East Karakoram), Chhamser Kangri(6622m) (Ladakh) and Khamengar (5760m)(Spiti).
2. Captain M.S. Kohli is an Internationally renowned mountaineer, and belongs to the exclusive band of three climbers in the world who in 1962 spent three nights at 27,650 feet on Everest, two without oxygen. He led the first successful Indian Expedition to Mount Everest in 1965 which put nine climbers on the summit, a world record which lasted for 17 years. He climbed Nanda Kot (22,510 feet) in 1959 and made the maiden ascent of highly challenging Annapurna III (24, 858 feet) in 1961 after high-altitude bandits had looted the Base Camp, taking two team members as hostages. From 1965 to 1968 he led the world's longest and highly sensitive Indo-American expedition to Nanda Devi and Nanda Kot. He was closely associated with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for 14 years, 10 years as Vice-President and 4 years as President.
3. Arjun Vajpai is the youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest. He achieved this feat at an age of 16 years, 11 months and 18 days. He broke the record set by the Krishna Patil of Maharashtra who climbed the summit at the age of 19. On 20 May 2011, he became the youngest climber ever to summit Lhotse, aged 17 years, 11 months and 16 days. Arjun also became the youngest to summit Mt.Manaslu on October 4, 2011 at 10 am.
4. Krushnaa Patil is the second youngest Indian to climb Mount Everest at an age of 19, preceding Arjun Vajpai, the youngest Indian to conquer Mount Everest. She is also the second woman from Maharashtra to climb Everest. At 18, she became the youngest person to scale Mount Satopanth (Garhwal Himalayas in Uttaranchal). Everest followed in May 2009, when she became the youngest Indian (after Dickey Dolma) to summit the peak.
5. Santosh Yadav is the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest twice in less than a year and the first woman to successfully climb Mt Everest from Kangshung Face. She first climbed the peak in May 1992 and then did it again in May 1993.
6. Bachendri Pal is the First Indian female (and fifth female) to ascend Mount Everest.
Re: Famous mountaineers of India
3 years, 11 months ago #477
Balwant Sandhu climbed and trekked for over 50 yrs in most ranges of the Himalayas. He was principal of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering Uttarkashi for Five years (1980-85). He was president of the Himalayan Club [1983-84) and Vice President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (197-98). He was a life member of the Central Himalayan Environment Association, the Himalayan Club, and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. In 2001 he was elected an honorary member of the Alpine Club, United Kingdom. In the following article, British mountaineer Doug Scott pays tribute to Balwant Sandhu:
Balwant Sandhu was not as one would imagine a Sikh Colonel in the Indian Army to be. On the Indo-British Changabang Expedition of 1974 most of his resting time was spent reading Arthur Miller or chatting away, in his deep baritone voice, interspersed with infectious chuckles of laughter, on every subject under the sun with the odd line or two from Browning or W B Yeats thrown in for good measure.
Balwant was the co-leader, along with Chris Bonington, although it was Balwant who had overseen the organisation of the expedition right up to base camp. He had tremendous respect from the Army members of the Indian contingent who helped progress the expedition, as far as the British knew, with very little fuss or bother. Subsequently, Balwant, Chris, Martin Boysen, Dougal Haston, Sherpa Tashi and myself all made the first ascent of Changabang (6864 m).
Santokh Singh Sandhu, a Sikh farmer living near Lahore, in what is now Pakistan, had five sons and the eldest was Balwant Singh Sandhu born 1 October 1934. Since the Sikhs are traditionally warriors it was not unusual for at least one member of the family to enter the Army. In 1957 Balwant was commissioned into the Mahar Machine Gun Regiment. Five years later he volunteered for the Parachute Regiment. He later taught at the Army College of Combat for three years and then went on to command the Sixth Parachute Battalion with distinction from 1971 to 1976. In 1980 he became Principal of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi for five years. By this time Balwant had become one of the most experienced Indian mountaineers, a fact recognised by his peers who invited him to become Honorary Member of the Alpine Club. He was later elected on to the Governing Council of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation for six years. He was also an Honorary Secretary of the Central Himalayan Environment Association and represented India on the UIAA for four years. He was also president of the Himalayan Club from 1983-1985.
In 1981 he was given the Arjuna award for excellence in mountaineering as a result of a lifetime of walking and climbing in usually remote and little known regions of the Himalaya. There is only space to mention the highlights of his climbing career, the first being the first ascent of the North Peak of Bancha Dhura solo (ca 6,000 m) in 1962. Other first ascents included Shinkun (6065 m in Lahaul, 1968), Changabang (6864 m, 1974), Phawarar ang (6349 m, 1979), Mamostong Kangri (7516 m) in the East Karakoram (1984), Kabru Dome (6600 m) via a new route (1985), West Face of Kamet (7756 m, 1985), Chombu East Peak NE Sikkim (5745 m, 1996). In 2001 Rudugaira (5816 m) and in 2002 Jogin III (6116 m)were climbed during Doon School Expeditions to the Gaarhwal Himalaya.
This list represents only part of his lifetime love of climbing. He could not, however, as he said, put himself “through so much torture as to go to Everest” but he did help others to go through organising various training camps for young Indian climbers. He also took part in a variety of expeditions as leader or co-leader with foreign climbers, schools, colleges, the IMF and with his beloved “Paras”.
In 1973 he led the Indo-British Expedition that put Chris Bonington and Nick Escourt on the summit of Brammah (6416 m) in the Kishtwar. In 1975 he was deputy leader of an Indo-French Nanda Devi Traverse expedition. Balwant with French climbers and also with his great Indian friends Prem Chand and Dorje Lhatoo climbed the main peak. The expedition also climbed Nanda Devi East (7434 m) but bad weather prevented the expedition achieving its main objective which was to link the two summits by a high level traverse. Balwant broke a leg making the descent something of an epic but then not for the first time. He had injured himself on several occasions previously from rock fall in 1961 and again in 1964 surviving a 1000 m avalanche but breaking a leg. Later on the Indo-New Zealand expedition to Rataban (6166 m) he was again injured by rock fall. There may be some truth in the saying “old soldiers never die”.
Balwant was physically as well as mentally, tough and one who could move easily and naturally through the mountains, acclimatising well and able to cope with all the usual frustrations without irritation. If ever a man lived his life to the full it was he. Apart from his love of mountaineering and Army life and the thrill of making over 150 parachute drops he enjoyed shooting, fishing, horse riding and riding his Bullet motorbike, usually at considerable speed, not always successfully but did survive several accidents.
My appreciation of Balwant increased with every meeting – after Changabang, on Shivling (6543 m) in 1981 then North East Sikkim with Suman Dubey and other English and American friends in 1966 and then on our attempt to reach Takpasiri on the Indo-Tibetan border with Greg Child and Akhil Sapru in 1999. Balwant had already agreed to reconnoitre the route through the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh the year before which was a considerable achievement at age 65 since he was alone but for the local Nishi people.
On 3 December Balwant Sandhu was struck by a speeding car near the Indian Mountaineering Foundation building in New Delhi. He was immediately taken to the Army Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi where he failed to regain consciousness. On 10 December Balwant passed away .