Minister of State for Home Affairs, Ajay Kumar Mishra recently flagged off “Saahas” -2023 NDRF’s first-ever Mountaineering Expedition led by DIG Gambhir Singh Chauhan.
The expedition comprising 38 skilled mountain climbers drawn from different NDRF Battalions seeks to scale Mt Bhagirathi-II peak. All the members of the expedition have undergone basic and advanced courses in high-altitude survival and mountain climbing from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) and other prestigious mountaineering institutes. Significantly NIM is the only mountaineering institute in India certified by the international federation for Climbing and Mountaineering – UIAA.
Located in the Garhwal Himalayas, Bhagirathi II (6,512M) along with its sister peaks- Bhigirathi I (6,856M) and Bhigirathi III (6,454M) forms the Bhagirathi massif. Mt. Bhagirathi Parbat II is the second-highest peak of the Bhagirathi massif. The mountains are named after the mythical King Bhagiratha, who brought the holy River Ganga down to earth to wash away and cleanse the sins of his ancestors.
Two Austrians Edi Ellmauthaler and Toni Messner climbed it for the first time way back in 1933. Almost 33 years later, Govinda Raj, Amar Ray, and two Sherpas, Karma and Gyalboo became the first Indians to successfully reach the peak after a ten-hour of difficult climb on 20 October 1966. Unfortunately, Amar Ray and two Sherpas Karma and Gyalboo died while Govinda Raj suffered frostbite on the way back from the summit.
The Mt. Bhagirathi 2 summit at an elevation of 6512 meters provides a bird’s eye view amazing view of the Gangotri region and sacred mountain peaks like Mt. Shivling, Mt. Thalaysagar, and Mt. Meru.
Some of the neighbouring or subsidiary peaks include:
- Bhagirathi Parbat I, 6,856 m
- Satopanth, 7,075m
- Vasuki Parbat, 6,792m
- Bhagirathi Parbat III, 6,454 m
All the members of the expedition underwent a 15-day acclimatizing, orientation, and preparatory training in mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, and fixed rope climbing, as well as administration and communication before embarking on the mission.
Mt. Bhagirathi 2 expedition is perfect for part-time trekkers wishing to become skilled mountaineers. It is a challenging task for climbers wanting to get a taste of high-altitude climbing and for those preparing for 7000+M peaks in the Himalayas.
It is recommended that only those with high altitude and technical trekking experiences should attempt the rigorous climb.
All said and done, it is an expedition reserved for experienced climbers as it requires specific knowledge of mountaineering equipment and survival at high altitudes and terrain. The best months to climb Bhagirathi II are June and September.
Significantly around 120 NDRF personnel are undergoing mountain rescue training at over 21,000 feet on the Bhagirath Kharak glacier. The idea behind this is to prepare rescue teams that could mobilize and operate at short notice throughout the year in disaster-prone high-altitude areas in Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Uttarakhand and northeast.
Currently, though the NDRF teams are based in different parts of the country, it takes time for them to reach the affected area in the mountains and immediately start the rescue operation because they are not acclimatised.
These rescuers posted in the mountains are likely to conduct rescue operations during calamities such as flash floods, landslides and avalanches in high-altitude areas. NDRF is also training with the Tiranga Mountain Rescue, a non-profit organisation affiliated with the Indian Army since 2016 and which provides avalanche rescue and training to the army.
Currently, the 120 handpicked personnel from the NDRF’s 12 Battalion headquartered in Arunachal Pradesh are on an advanced expedition in the Bhagirath Kharak glacier in Uttarakhand. The NDRF an organisation under the Ministry of home affairs has around 17,500 personnel drawn from paramilitary forces like Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
The need for a force capable of producing immediate results in sub-zero temperatures was also felt in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey where the rescuers from India had to suddenly land and operate in extremely cold temperatures.