Eminent mountaineer H.C.S. Rawat passed away on January 20. I knew him for the last four decades and admired him for his rare qualities and warm nature. A devoted mountaineer, a doting husband and father and above all a selfless man and a friend to one and all, Rawat was a natural climber. He was born in Munsiyari on July 3, 1934. Rawat was the grandson of Kisan Singh of Pandit brothers’ fame, who surveyed Tibet.
Rawat participated in a number of expeditions including Nanda Devi, Kanglacha, Hathi Parbvat, Trishuli, Rathong, Nandakhat and Nun Kun. In 1965, we climbed Mount Everest together. On May 29, 1965, we both left for the summit of Mount Everest from the last camp. I along with Phu Dorji and Rawat followed with Bhaugana. But due to ill health, Bhaugana could not proceed. But Rawat walked all alone through the death zone to join us and is the only person to have achieved this feat in the world. He managed to join us at the summit. This became a world record because never before three members have reached the top together.
Rawat was a member of the Silk Route Expedition, which followed Marco Polo’s route in China. He could identify some of the areas visited by his grandfather, both in Tibet as well as in central Asia.
He served in cabinet secretariat with distinction and was deputed as first secretary to the Indian embassies in Nepal and Bhutan. A recipient of Arjuna award, Rawat had several other laurels like the Padma shree, Police Medal and IMF Silver Medal to his credit.
For over two decades, he served the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and was instrumental in taking it to the
international level. In recent years, he was involved in a number of mountain-cleaning expeditions.
It was not only the mountains that got his attention: he was involved in greening of the high-altitude areas and took active interest in empowerment of women of Kausani and Munsiyari.
Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia is President, Indian Mountaineering Foundation.