New Delhi: A 23-member team of ITBP was today
flagged off here on a mountaineering and ski expedition to
Mount Everest from the Chinese side, considered tougher than
the more-frequently taken route through Nepal.
If the paramilitary team successfully skies down from the
8,848-metre peak somewhere in the second fortnight of May, it
would become the first Indian expedition team to do so.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna flagged off the
team, which has five men who have scaled Everest earlier, from
the headquarters of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
Khanna handed over the ceremonial pick-axe, donning the
tri-colour and the ITBP flag, to team leader Prem Singh as he
wished them success.
"This is a difficult task that we have undertaken. Skiing
down from the Chinese side is tough and our boys have put in a
lot of preparation to achieve the feat," ITBP Director General
Ranjit Sinha said during the flag-off ceremony.
The Chinese government has issued visas to the Indian
team and a four-member Chinese liaison team will also be with
the ITBP mountaineers, upto the base camp.
The expedition comes at a time when the Sino-Indian
border guarding force is celebrating its golden jubilee year
of establishment. 2012 is being celebrated as the year of
friendship and cooperation between India and China.
The ambitious expedition is being planned since the last
few years but it could not take off due to non-clearance at
administrative and diplomatic levels.
More than 15 attempts to ski down the Everest from the
Chinese side have failed in the past owing to various reasons
and in order to keep a record of this expedition, the ITBP
team would be wearing camera-mounted helmets specially
procured from Japan.
The ITBP climbers would be equipped with sophisticated
mountaineering gadgets and satellite phones to keep in touch
with the base camp.
The members of the team have been trained by Inspector
General (IG) Harbhajan Singh, at the ITBP mountaineering and
skiing institute in Auli in Uttarakhand.
Singh has been honoured with a Padma Shri for his
contribution to adventure sports.
"The expedition team, in an eco-friendly gesture, will
also pick and bring back the garbage left on the peak by
former climbers," the DIG said.