Showkat Mir

Srinagar, May 24: Symbolising the lofty ideals that the Chinar Corps represents, a 45 member team of Army’s mountaineers scaled the lofty, sacred and formidable peak of Harmukh as part of the Corps’ centenary celebrations, an army spokesman in a statement issued here said.

Harmukh with a peak elevation of 5148m lies in the north western Himalayan range.  The karakoram range borders it on the north and Kashmir Valley on the south, the spokesman said.

Harmukh is a combination of two words which means same on all sides rising like a consistently steep pyramid dropping sharply to the east and south, with eastern slope the steepest. History brings out that the peak was first summited by members of great trigonometric survey led by Thomas Montgomerie in 1856 from where two massive mountains K1 later named Masherbrum and K2 (being the second highest peak in the world) were earmarked and named, the spokesman said.

The expedition team led by three times Everester and one of the highest decorated soldiers, Col SS Shekhawat KC, SC, SM, VSM gathered at Gulmarg on 7th March 2016.  After two months of basic ice craft, snow craft and rock craft training at Gulmarg and Sonamarg under the aegis of HAWS the team summited Apharwat and Habbaakhatoon as pre-expedition peaks, the spokesman said.

The advance to the summit started on 6th May 2016 and negotiating challenging, at times treacherous stretches enroute, the team set up the Base Camp near Gangabal Lake at the base of Harmukh.  Route opening on the southwestern face started on 12th May where at one fourth route of the summit, Camp One was established; waist deep snow and crevasses reduced the pace of climb and it took 96 hours to reach the Summit Camp, the spokesman said.

The climb from Summit Camp posed all the challenges that a mountaineer could possibly encounter – a 200 ft icewall with a stiff gradient; imposing Peak 5095; a steep cutting of 300 ft with loose rocks; a 10 mtr deep nallah and then the final 200m exacting climb to the Harmukh Top.  As said by the locals, peak 5095 has been climbed many a times but  the 5448m height Harmukh was still a virgin peak, the spokesman said.

The entire team eventually summited Harmukh on 21 May at 1100 hour and descended to base camp the same day, the spokesman said.

The expedition was a tribute to the ‘never-say-die’ sprit of the Indian Soldier as also characterised his camaraderie, adventurism and risk taking capabilities, the spokesman said.