Bengal: Climbers to double up as HAM radio experts

The first batch of mountaineers from Bengal would soon get licences to operate HAM radios, giving a fillip to search operations on the killer peaks.
HAM operators say, with the help of cheap, easy-to-handle HAM sets, climbers can never go missing.
HAM operators say, with the help of cheap, easy-to-handle HAM sets, climbers can never go missing.
Updated on May 26, 2016 04:27 PM IST
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Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times | By, Kolkata

The first batch of mountaineers from Bengal would soon get licences to operate HAM radios, giving a fillip to search operations on the killer peaks.

The first licence was issued on Wednesday while another 22 will be given in the next few days. After months of training, 27 mountaineers appeared for an examination for HAM radio licence at Sodepur High School in North 24-Parganas. Twenty three passed the test and their licences will get licences soon.

Dipankar Ghosh, one of Bengal’s well-known mountaineers who scaled 30 Himalayan peaks including Mt Everest, is also among those who cleared the test. This comes at a time when the state is shocked by Everest climbers going missing on way to the summit.

“This may be the first licence issued to a mountaineer,” Ambarish Nag Biswas, secretary of secretary West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur club), told HT. He trained all the mountaineers before the test.

Read: Hopes of finding missing Everest climbers from India fade

The only communication device that works in such conditions is satellite phone, which are not freely available in India. They have to be rented from agencies in Nepal and are very expensive. Over the past few days, Rajib Bhattacharya died while trying to conquer Dhoulagiri while two others, Gautam Ghosh and Paresh Nath, plunged Bengal in agony and suspense as they remained missing since last week.

HAM operators say, with the help of cheap, easy-to-handle HAM sets, climbers can never go missing. Even if they fall ill, or meet with an accident, the radio sets they will be carrying will constantly emit signals that will pinpoint their location.

These sets are available at prices ranging from Rs 4,000 to Rs 35,000. They also weigh less than two kg and won’t be a burden for the climbers.

The mountaineers will carry the radio sets on their backpack with an antenna and can communicate on the go. They will be using high frequency bandwidth.

“If Gautam and Paresh had HAM radio sets with them, this wouldn’t have happened. Even if they are sick or cannot move, the radio sets will help pinpoint their location. I have received my licence from the government on Wednesday. Each and every mountaineer should learn and practice HAM radio,” said Subrata Dey, a veteran mountaineer and friend of late Rajib Bhattacharya.

Read: Indian climber dies on Everest, no trace of two others missing

Subrata Dey, 47, an adventure sports coordinator, became the first Bengal mountaineer to be issued the licence from the ministry of communication and information technology on Wednesday. He has so far climbed 24 peaks.

Right now, Dipankar Ghosh is in Nepal trying to bring back the body of Rajib.

“These HAM radio sets can actually save lives when we are climbing icy peaks like Mt Everest and Kanchenjungha,” said Dipankar.

“The mountaineers will also be given a transmitter device that will be attached to their belt. This device will periodically emit signals giving away their position to the base camp, or anywhere else. In this way, we will be able to track him or her,” said Ambarish.

Amateur radio operators enjoy personal and often worldwide wireless communications with each other. An estimated three million people throughout the world are involved in amateur radio operation.

HAM radio operators have worked in disasters like cyclone Aila and Bhuj earthquake. The device can also be used to send e-mails.

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