New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) A strenuous ascent of around 15 days and gashes due to falling rocks could not deter nine mountaineers to successfully scale Mount Thalay Sagar, which according to some experts is more difficult to scale than the Mt. Everest.
At an altitude of 6,904 metres in the western Garhwal Himalayas, the peak belongs to the Gangotri group of mountains and is steep on all sides, said an official of the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) in Uttarakhand, which organised the expedition.
The group was felicitated by Defence Minister A.K. Antony at a special ceremony here Saturday.
Praising the efforts of the team, Antony said the achievement was a proof of the high standards of the NIM, its excellence and popularity.
“They faced a formidable challenge in scaling this peak and it was equal if not more than the Mount Everest,” he added.
“The success rate on this peak is one of the lowest in the world. It is also called ‘the devil’s red wall’,” team leader and NIM principal I.S. Thapa told IANS.
“It was a mix of soldiers of the Indian Army and trainers from NIM. The expedition commenced June 21 and concluded July 4,” he added.
The monsoon season arrived three days early in the mountains which meant that bad weather was a major hindrance to the mountaineers.
Soon after starting the expedition, strong blizzards forced the team to return to the base camp. It was only after contacting the weather department in Delhi for an update that the mountaineers restarted the expedition.
“Some falling rocks hit me on my head and I fell flat on my face in the ice,” said Nand Kumar Jagtap, a subedar with the Indian Army who despite wearing a helmet got slashed on his nose and forehead by the pointed rocks.
Said NIM trainer: “I asked him to call off the expedition but he insisted on carrying on.”
The mountaineers also did their bid for the environment as they cleaned the area around their base camp and brought down eight bags of garbage.
“We took with us Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) instead of kerosene to curb pollution levels,” Thapa said.