On icy peak, team spirit lesson

24 scale 19558ft-high mt kanamo

By Our Special Correspondent in Jamshedpur
  • Published 11.09.18
Members of the TSAF team that scaled Mt Kanamo in Himachal Pradesh at JRD Tata Sports Complex in Jamshedpur on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur: What does it take to survive thin oxygen, icy winds and a cloudburst here and there?

Twenty-four thrill junkies not only scaled the icy peak of Mt Kanamo at 19,556 feet in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, but also learnt about team spirit, a key element for any high altitude adventure, in the recently concluded treks organised by Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF), Jamshedpur.

The team comprised five rural youths from Tata Steel Kalinganagar's operations in Odisha and 20 employees of Tata Steel, of which only one of the latter could not complete the task. Divided into two groups, one began its trek on August 14 and completed it on August 22, while another began on August 24 wrapped it up on September 1.

"Such large groups successfully scaling Mt Kanamo certainly speaks volumes of team spirit," said TSAF senior manager Hemant Gupta. "Both the teams were led by TSAF chief inspector Pratim Bhowmick and assisted by TSAF head instructor Navendra Singh, Everester Poonam Rana, Gopal Singh Bisht and Randeb Singh Rawat. Only one member, a Tata Steel employee, could not scale the peak due to altitude sickness after reaching up to summit camp (16,500 feet)," he said .

On leading large groups in treks, team leader Pratim Bhowmik, who has been with TSAF for nearly three decades, said taking responsibility for the entire group was the biggest challenge.

"One has to adjust with fast and slow climbers," he smiled. "The biggest challenge is keeping up with those who are not as fast. Everyone in a large group is not equally fit. Their ages vary. To cite an example, we had 55-year-old Nirbhay Singh Salar and 20-year-old Sonam Kumari. So these variations teach each of us tolerance. Every member takes care of the other," he said.

Experts helped in acclimatising the groups to severe weather conditions, including chilly dry winds, sub-zero temperature and low oxygen.

Gupta said trekkers had to have a BMI (body mass index) not more than 26, prior experience of trekking above 14,000ft and the ability to run. "But mental toughness above all."