Its personnel have ventured to a depth of 40 meters below sea level and the an Indian Navy team is all set to once again scale the world’s highest peak at 8,848 meters, with an expedition to Mt. Everest being flagged off by Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Thursday.
The 24-member team will follow in the footsteps of an Indian Navy expedition that reached the summit 13 years ago in 2004.
The team has been drawn from personnel serving on the nuclear submarine INS Chakra and the destroyer INS Chennai, from the flying arm and from the Maricos (Marine Commandos).
The expedition is named “Sagartal se Sagarmatha” which translates into “From the seabed to Mt. Everest”, Sagarmatha being the Nepalese name of Mt. Everest.
The ice axe that the team will plant on the summit has also been under the sea, with a team of divers taking it 40 meters below sealevel off Karwar in the Indian Ocean.
“In 2004, the expedition was flagged off from a submarine. This time as well we wanted an element of sea. So we took the ice axe to the sea bed,” the team leader, Commander Sanjay Kulkarni, said.
The team of divers included Commander Kulkarni, Commander Chaitanya and Lt. Commander Vinit, all part of the expedition.
Master Chief Petty Officer Vikas Kumar, who scaled Mt. Everest in 2004 is again part of the team and also hopes to reach the summit.
Kumar, who was a part of Indian Navy teams that traversed the North Pole and the South Pole, said conquering the “Third Pole”, Mt. Everest is the toughest.
“The lack of oxygen is a big challenge. Expedition to North Pole and South Pole were very challenging but Mt. Everest is the ultimate challenging,” Kumar told IANS.
“I am confident we will scale the Mt. Everest,” he said.
The selection of the team started long back, with initially 100 members being shortlisted. The number finally scaled down to 24, 18 members in teams of nine each who would scale the summit, and six members in the support team who would be at the base.
The training for the team has been on for almost two years now, including acclimatisation in Ladakh in December 2016.
The team would be taking the original route that was used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
The team would be leaving on March 29 for Nepal, is likely to attempt climbing the peak from May 11 to 18, with a second window of May 20-29.
The team would start back for India at the end of May or early June.