Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering, Darjeeling: Located at 27.060, 88.254 at an altitude of about 7000 feet above sea level in the Hill Station Town of Darjeeling of West Bengal State of India is the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering. The Institute was launched by Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and is run by an Executive Council whose President is the Hon’ble Minister of Defense and the Vice President is the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal. Patronized both by the Government of India as well as the Government of West Bengal, the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering is an Autonomous Body.
The Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering was the brainchild of India’s first Prime Minister – Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru who saw huge potential in mountaineering and wanted to pave a way for the country’s youth to venture in this direction and explore newer territories and exploit all the goodness. And boy was he right! Today mountaineering is a multi-million dollar industry with the list of enthusiasts multiplying by the day. The Institute was established by Pandit Nehru on 4th November 1954 in Darjeeling and Tenzing Norgay was made the first director of Field Training (mountaineering) for Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering. With the establishment of the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering, the fear of mountaineering was removed and suddenly mountaineering became an organized sport in India and HMI became a popular institute for training in mountaineering worldwide.
Since its inception and its existence of 50 years, the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering has trained more than 24,000 Indians and about 1000 foreigners. In its endeavour to inspire women to take up mountaineering, the month of May is dedicated solely for the purpose of training women at mountaineering – which has paid rich dividends. More and more women are mountain-bound these days. The Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering Graduation Certificate is a prized possession of a mountaineer which is recognized all over the world.
The objective of the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering is to promote the science and art of mountaineering and to develop mountaineering activities both - as a sport as well as a scientific pursuit.
The surprising aspect of this Institute is that it is the only institute that teaches the art of mountaineering and high-altitude trekking to the visually impaired!
The Stalwarts of Mountaineering of the Himalayan Institute of mountaineering are:
1.Major N D Jayal: One of the pioneers of mountaineering in India and a member of ‘Bandar-Punch’ and ‘Cho-oyu’ Expeditions, Major Jayal ascended the Himalayan Mountains – Kamet, Sakang and Nanda Devi.
2.Colonel B S Jaiswal: A Mountaineer of the Indian Army, Colonel Rathong led his first successful expedition to Mount Rathong in 1964.
3.Brigadier Gyan Singh: The second Principal of the Institute and the Hony. Director of National Adventure Foundation, Brig. Singh led the first Indian Everest Expedition in 1960.
4.Colonel N Kumar: Led successful expeditions to Mountains Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chomolhari and also led India German Indus Boat Expedition and Trishul Ski-expedition.
5.Lt. Colonel A S Cheema: The 5th Principal of the Institute and the first and only Principal of the Institute to have summitted the Everest. The indoor rock climbing wall of the Institute has been named after him.
6.Gp. Captain A J S Grewal: Fellow of Royal Geographical Society, he was a member of the Everest Expedition in 1969 and the Neelkanth Expedition in 1961.
7.Gp. Captain A K Chowdhury: He was member in several India expeditions to Mount Everest, Nanda Devi, and Neelkanth.
8.Brigadier D K Khullar: He ascended Mountains – Gorichen, Kokthang, Leo Pargyal, Dev Ban, Kinnaur Kailash, Jaonli, Mana, Kabru Dome and led the Indian Everest Expedition in 1984 and also led the Indo-British Army Expedition to Saser Kangri.
9.Colonel Amit Roy: He ascended Bidhan Peak, Gangotri, Gangotri I & II, Gharol and Rau, and New Zealand’s Ngaurahoe and Ruaphe.
10.Colonel A K Dutt: An Indian delegate to the Mountaineering Commission UIAA, he explored Mount Everest and Neora Valley.
11.Colonel H S Chauhan: The 11th Principal of the Institute who led successful expeditions to Mountains Stok, Kangri, Gulab Kangri, Mana Neelkanth, Kabru, Nanda Devi East, Mont Blanc (the French Alps), Gya North, Kamet, Gorichen, Abi Gamin and Aconcagua (Argentina) and the Indian Army Trans-Himalayan Expedition.
12.Colonel Vijay Singh: Having served as an Instructor in High Altitude Warfare School, Gulmarg, Kashmir, he led a successful Himalayan Mountaineering Institute’s Mount Everest Expedition.
Three Mountaineers who are considered as ‘Legendary Mountaineers’ by the Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering:
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa: Started his mountaineering career scaling Mount Everest as a High-altitude porter in 3 different expeditions in 1935, 1936 and 1938. He was made a Climbing Member of the Swiss Expedition to Mount Everest in 1952 when he reached upto 28,200 feet along with Raymond Lambert. In 1953, Tenzing finally successfully summitted Mount Everest at 29,028 feet above sea level - along with New Zealander – Edmund Hillary.
Nowang Gambhu: Since the inception of Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering in 1954, Shri Gambhu has been a mountaineering instructor and also served as a Director of Field Training. He is the first person in the world to have climbed Mount Everest twice and has also scaled Mounts Saser Kangri, Nanda Devi, Rathong, and other peaks and also led the International Ladies Cho-oyu Expedition as an Observer. He also served as an Hony. Instructor in America in the Climbing School at Mount Rainer The Awards and Honour conferred upon Shri Nowang Gambhu are: Padma Bhushan, Padma Shree, Arjun Award, Gold Medal (Indian Mountaineering Foundation), Coronation Medal of Queen Elizabeth II, Tiger Badge (Himalayan Club) Hubbard Medal (National Geographical Society), Tenzing Award and Olympic Gold Medal.
Dorjee Lhatoo: Before becoming the Deputy Director of Field Training of Himalayan Institute of Mountaineering Dorjee Lhatoo served in the ranks of the Indian Army. He has scaled the Mountains Nanda Devi, Chhomolhari, and Mount Everest in the Himalayas and also Mont Blanc in Swiss Alps. Shri Lhatoo has been awarded Silver and Gold Medals by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation – an Apex National Body which organizes, supports and provides base for expeditions at high altitudes such as mountaineering, skiing, trekking etc.; Tenzing Norgay Award (created by the Government of India in Honour of Tenzing Norgay), sports Medal of French Sports federation.
You would find it interesting that a Personality Analysis was recently conducted on ‘risk-taking sports people’ and the discovery made was that the personality of the risk-takers is different to that of average people and that the risk-takers scored higher in areas of ‘novelty-seeking’ (sensation seeking) and ‘self-directedness and scored lower on ‘harm-avoidance’. This means that the risk-taking sports people – in this context the mountaineers - generally enjoy exploring unfamiliar places and situations in day-to-day life and also are excitable, impulsive, quick-tempered, enjoy new experiences, seek new adventures and thrills and are easily bored. Even in the face of risk and uncertainty, they tend to be relaxed and confident as they perceive a difficult situation as a challenge or an opportunity which makes them less responsive to danger. Mountaineers are said to have good self-esteem, optimism and self-reliance which shapes them into becoming high achievers.