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HMI team scales Europe summit

The 7-member squad topped up its feat of scaling the 18,510ft mountain in Russia by performing yoga

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 18.08.19, 1:18 AM
  • Updated 18.08.19, 1:18 AM
  • a min read
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The HMI team at the summit of Mt Elbrus on August 15 Telegraph picture

A team from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute here climbed Mt Elbrus, touted as the highest peak in Europe, on Independence Day.

The seven-member squad topped up its feat of scaling the 18,510ft mountain in Russia by performing yoga, something few climbers are known to have done so far.

“Our team unfurled the Tricolour atop Mt. Elbrus at 8.45am on August 15, 2019, to commemorate 73rd Independence Day along with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 105th birth anniversary of our legendary climber Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and the 65th anniversary of HMI,” Group Captain Jai Kishan, principal of the HMI and the team leader, said in a WhatsApp message.

Kishan and Havildar Pankaj Kumar performed Yogasana and Suryanamaskar at an altitude of 18,372ft, a little below the peak. “Since there were lots of people at the highest point, we found space a little below (200ft). This is the first time any mountaineering expedition has performed yoga on the summit of a mountain,” said Kishan.

With temperatures between minus 10 and 15 degree Celsius and the members wearing heavy boots, lugging equipment and oxygen cylinders, yoga was not easy.

The team perform yoga at the summit of Mt. Elbrus on August 15
The team perform yoga at the summit of Mt. Elbrus on August 15 Telegraph picture

The other members in the team were Subedar Devi Singh (deputy leader) and instructors Roshan Ghatraj, Aditya Gurung, Passang Tenzing Sherpa and Umang Mukhia.

The team started the last climb around 11pm on August 14 and reached the peak after a nine-hour trek the next morning. The members also performed yoga at different locations during their descent, with climbers from other countries joining in. The team reached the base camp the same day. The mountain is 65km from the Russian town of Kislovodsk.

The expedition was flagged off from Delhi by Union minister of state for defence Shripad Naik on August 6.

HMI teams have in the past climbed Mount Everest twice (2003 and 2012) and Mount Aconcagua (1999) in Argentina — the highest in South America.

HMI aims to conquer the tallest peaks in all continents. The institute was founded on November 4, 1954, by then Prime Minister Jawharlal Nehru, largely because Darjeeling is the hometown of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first to climb Mt. Everest along with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.

Mt. Elbrus was the HMI’s 15th such success. Over 45,000 students, including 2,500 from abroad, have been trained there in the past six decades.