HIGH UP: MARATHAS SCALE MOUNT EVEREST

Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance. —Samuel Johnson

An expedition planned by the Indian Army to scale Mount Everest was planned for 2007. Lt Col I.S. Thapa, SM, from the regiment was selected as the leader of this team. Around 65 percent of the expedition team and half of those who scaled the peak were from the Maratha Light Infantry. This was a matter of substantial pride for the Regiment.

All-embracing preparations were carried out before attempting to scale the world’s highest peak to include two expeditions – one to Mount Bhagirathi II, and the other to Mount Mana. In addition, the team was trained during winter on the Siachen Glacier. The team left New Delhi on 28 March 2007 for Kathmandu and on reaching there it carried out liaison. Thereafter it proceeded to Lhasa. Three days later, on 2 April 2007, the team set off for the base camp and arrived there on 7 April. Acclimation, liaison, calibration of weather equipment and preparation of loads for subsequent camps was carried out. The intermediate base camp was established and occupied on 15 April 2007 and the advance base camp was established on 16 April. On the day that followed, Lt Col IS Thapa carried out reconnaissance of North Col for establishing Camp-I. Camp I was established a day later at a height of 23,120 feet, Camp II, at 25580 feet and Camp III at 27220 feet. All this was accomplished by 30 Apr 2007.

Weather conditions had however worsened on 20 April 2007. Heavy snowfall was predicted in the next four days. But for a small period on 27 and 28 April, the weather remained bad endlessly till 10 May 2007. On 10 May 2007, when the weather improved, the team reached intermediate base camp. On 13 May, on reaching Camp I, the first Summit Group occupied Camp II and climbed to Summit Camp (Camp III) on 14 May 2007.

At 2200h (IST) on 14 May 2007, the first Summit Group comprising of six members and six Sherpas, led by Capt. D.J. Singh left Camp III for the Mount Everest peak. They reached the summit around 0545h.

It was a wonderful moment for Capt. D..J Singh, Sub. Maruti Khandagale, Nb Sub. Sunder Singh, Hav. NandKumar Jagtap, Hav. Dayanand Dhali and Sepoy Sachin Patil, for it is they who flew the Regimental Fag on the pinnacle of Mount Everest. The team thereafter closed all the higher camps and descended safely to base camp by 22 May 2007.

Maj Sadanand Shelke is a former officer of 16 Maratha LI

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