Several peaks to scale, not just Everest: HMI

Chennai, Jan 15 : There are several mountain peaks in the world to scale and not just Mount Everest, said a senior official of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) in West Bengal's Darjeeling district.

He said the institute has recently decided to offer courses in mountaineering on actual cost basis to meet the increasing demand from students, corporate executives and foreigners.

"While aspiring to climb Mount Everest, the tallest peak in the world, is understandable, one should not be just fixated on that alone, neglecting the chance of climbing other peaks," Wing Commander Devidutta Panda, Vice Principal of the HMI, told IANS on a recent visit.

He was referring to the trend among trainees who want to scale only Mount Everest, particularly after a young girl, Poorna Malavath, climbed that peak in 2014.

Poorna, at the age of 13 years, became the youngest girl in the world to scale Mount Everest.

Panda has climbed all the major peaks in Asia, Europe and Africa including Mount Everest twice.

He has a total of 16 mountaineering expeditions under his cap.

He was the Deputy Leader of Indian Air Force Everest Expedition 2011 when he along with seven other members, including two women climbers, summitted the peak.

According to him, it would cost around Rs 25 lakh for a person to climb Mount Everest.

"Bank loans are available and one can raise some funds from some corporates.

Sponsorships in large scale is not there for this adventure sport."

Queried about other trends, Panda said there is good demand for mountaineering courses and trainees hail from different states.

The good demand has prompted the HMI to introduce some courses on actual cost basis.

"We have decided to increase our student intake based on actual cost basis.

Currently the fees for various courses are largely subsidised," Panda said.

The subsidised fee ranges between Rs 4,250 and Rs 7,750 depending on the kind of training and includes the cost of training, equipment, boarding and lodging.

The HMI holds its training sessions in Sikkim adding to its costs.

According to Panda, the special courses on actual cost basis can be undertaken at any time of the year and even an individual can take the course instead of being part of a batch.

The new mountaineering courses are sport climbing, rock climbing, basic and advance mountaineering, adventure, and the training duration can vary as per the needs of the trainee.

Sport climbing courses are very popular among school children from Class 4 to 9 who come on weekends during vacations to take part in the courses.

The HMI also screens a short movie about a mountaineering expedition for the tourists.

Founded in 1954, the HMI is housed inside the zoo complex in Darjeeling, the hometown of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first Indian to set foot on the highest peak of Mount Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand.

Meanwhile, the zoo has attractions like Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Bengal Tiger and a large variety of colourful birds.



Source: IANS