Salute to first boots nation put on Everest

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling has decided to felicitate members and the next of kin of the first Indian team that successfully scaled Mount Everest in 1965, on Everest Day, celebrated on May 29 .

By Vivek Chhetri
  • Published 20.04.15
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SUMMIT MOMENTS OF 1965

A picture of celebration of the team after the Everest ascent. (From left) Captain AS Cheema (hand extended); Sonam Gyatso (in maroon T-shirt); Captain MS Kohli (bearded and in sunshades); Captain N Kumar (in cowboy hat)
The full Everest team, including the 19 climbers and support staff. Sixth from 
the left in the bottom row is Nawang Gombu
The team at the Khumbu glacier, at 18,000ft, on the way to Everest
The return to the base camp after the summit success

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling has decided to felicitate members and the next of kin of the first Indian team that successfully scaled Mount Everest in 1965, on Everest Day, celebrated on May 29 .

Although Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary had climbed the Everest for the first time on May 29, 1953, the duo were part of a British expedition team which was led by Colonel John Hunt.

The first successful Indian team, with 19 members in total of climbers, support staff and trainers, created two world records. One, it sent the highest number of Everest summiteers - nine - who scaled the peak over several days.

Second, during the expedition that Nawang Gombu became the first man to climb the Everest twice.

Gombu had summited in 1963 along with Jim Whittaker in the first successful US expedition.

Colonel Gulshan Chaddha, the principal of HMI, told The Telegraph: "On May 29, this year, HMI will felicitate the members and the next of kin of the first successful Indian expedition to Everest. The 19-member HMI expedition had created a world record by sending nine members of the team on top of Everest. The record had remained intact for 17 years. We are felicitating the team as 2015 is the golden jubilee year of the first successful Indian team's ascent to the Everest."

Chaddha said: "The team's success in 1965 had electrified the country. Then acting Prime Minister Gulzarilal Nanda had set aside protocol to receive the team at the airport.

"The leader of the team and other members were invited to both Houses of Parliament and all the members were conferred with the country's then highest sport award then - the Arjuna Award."

India had two unsuccessful expeditions in 1960 and 1962. But the country saw success the third time on May 20, 1965, when Captain M.S. Kohli and his team scaled the peak. The success came in phases - the nine climbers did not summit together.

Two members, Captain A.S. Cheema and Nawang Gombu, scaled the peak on the first day. On May 22, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Wangyal reached the summit and again on May 24, C.P. Vohra and Ang Kami scaled Everest, to be followed by Captain H.P.S. Ahluwalia , H.C.S. Rawat and Phu Dorje on May 29, 1965.

"The successful Indian expedition was led by Captain M.S. Kohli. His deputy was Captain N. Kumar, who later became the principal of HMI. Captain M.S. Kohli also served as an equipment officer at HMI," Chaddha said.

Gombu also served as the director of field training at the HMI.

On May 29, 2015, also the 101st birth anniversary of Norgay, the HMI will unveil a memorial to Nawang Sherpa, who died in Darjeeling on April 24, 2011.

Asked about the surviving members of the 1965 team likely to attend the HMI event, Chaddha said: "Captain M.S. Kohli, Colonel N. Kumar, C.P. Vohra, Sonam Wangyal, Brigadier Mulk Raj, Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia. G.S. Bhangu and Dr Lala Telang will attend the function. I think only Gurdial Singh will be unable to travel." Chaddha said.