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  India Navy North Side Everest 2004 Expedition


From the Ocean Depths to The Top of the World

THE INDIAN NAVY TEAM ALL SET TO SCALE MT. EVEREST FOLLOWING THE TIBET ROUTE

New Delhi, May 13, 2004: Led by Commander Satyabrata Dam, Indian Navy’s ­14 member team is making its first ever attempt to scale Mt. Everest this summer. The Honorable Defence Minister, Shri George Fernandes along with the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, PVSM, AVSM, ADC, flagged off the expedition on March 08, 2004 aboard a submarine. Cdr. Satyabrata Dam, the team leader and Nitin Singh, Seaman Ist Class, the youngest member of the team, were among those who were present at the flag off ceremony. The expedition will attempt to summit via the north face and is expected to reach the summit sometime later this month.

The expedition route from the north face via Tibet has never been attempted before by teams of the Indian Armed Forces. This route is by far considered the more difficult and technically challenging route. If successful, the Indian Navy would be the First Navy of the world to scale what is sometimes also referred to as the ‘Third Pole’.

Commander Dam, the team leader, is a submariner and if he summits the Everest, he would be the first submariner, mountaineer to achieve this feat. The climbing team along with Cdr. Dam include: Lt. Cdr. A Kankan, Lt. Amit Pande ( Deputy Leader), Lt. K.S. Balaji, Surg. Lt. V. Bhanoo, Raj Kumar-Master Chief Engine Room Artificer (MCERA I), Rakesh Kumar- Leading Medical Assistant, Vikas Kumar- Leading Medical Assistant and Nitin Singh- Seaman Ist Class. The team, which is a mix of officers and sailors, has been selected after many rigorous and intensive rounds of physical and mental capability tests.  

Wishing the team success, Admiral Madhvendra Singh said, “The team has its task cut out for it. I am certain that they shall do the nation proud. We wish the team all the luck in their endeavour.”

For the duration of the expedition, the Navy has set up an Everest Expedition Control Cell, New Delhi. In an update on the team’s progress, the Officer in Charge of the cell, Lt. Commander Sameer Chopra said, “The team arrived at the Base Camp, located at a height of 5200 meters, on April 06, 2004. Thereafter, on April 15, they reached the Advanced Base Camp, at a height of 6400 meters. Thanks to good weather, the team achieved its first breakthrough on April 22; the route to North Col was opened by the team of sherpas and climbers. The team faced a rough time climbing higher with winds as strong as 110-150 kms/hr making it nearly impossible to go on further. Only sheer determination and grit has kept them going. After having reached a height of 7800 meters, the team is now back to the Advanced Base Camp and will resume their final steps soon. The team’s progress to the summit is as per the plans and we hope to summit by the end of May 2004.”

Perennially driven by its unquenchable thirst for new challenges, the Indian Navy has always been on the forefront of adventure activities and has re-entered the arena of extreme mountaineering.  Mt. Suithilla, a hitherto virgin peak, was recently scaled by the Naval mountaineers in their maiden attempt. Last year, they scaled Mt. Kamet (7756 meters), Abi Gamin (7354 meters) during May – June 2003 and Mt. Saser Kangri (7,677 meters)- adding credence to their claim “We don’t just rule the high seas, we also scale the highest peaks.”

Scaling Mt. Everest (height 8,850 meters) is a dream that only the bravest of brave dare to dream, even fewer attempt it. Many from among those who actually begin the journey never make it to the summit. Many never make it back…

The physical, mental and spiritual challenges that the team faces are unique, as is the experience of reaching the summit. To ensure success for the expedition, the carefully selected team, underwent rigorous training of the body, the mind and spirit.

Indian Navy’s Spirit of Adventure 

As part of its peacetime initiatives, the Indian Navy has always been on the forefront of adventure and is constantly seeking new challenges. 

The Indian Navy has in the past, led several large adventure initiatives that have displayed its domination of not just the seas but also of the land and the skies. From Rock Climbing, High Altitude Treks, White Water Rafting to Scuba diving and Ocean sailing, the Naval teams have always been actively involved with various forms of adventure activities. The other activities that the Navy has been conducting include Para Sailing, Sky Diving, Hand Gliding, Powered Hand Gliding and Microlite flying. 

The activities not only help showcase the Indian Navy’s spirit of…

  • Adventure

  • Team Work

  • Endurance

  • Will Power

  • Cohesiveness

  • Stamina

But also motivate the personnel to touch new heights and works as a catalyst in attracting fresh talent by showcasing the varied colours and flavours of life in the Indian Navy.

preparatory training for the mountaineering team was at Ozone Fitness and Spa. The training was spread over forty days and included the following activities.

Day 1: Spinning (Group indoor cycling)

Day 2:BodySculpting (High intensity circuit training)

Day 3: Yoga & Meditation (Flexibility and relaxation)

Day 4 : The same cycle to follow

Day 7 Active rest

These cardiovascular, endurance based training sessions were held exclusively in the “ Group Fitness Activity basement” at Ozone and were closely monitored by a team of fitness professionals. The fitness instructors adapt and apply changes according to the needs/requirements of the squad. 

Indian Navy constantly endeavors to run various human resource development programmes including a variety of academic and non-academic activities through which the officers and sailors can imbibe the qualities that contribute to a war winning physiological and psychological advantage. Physical fitness, which is in any case, an essential pre-requisite for any military force is just one of the many other attributes that the officers and sailors must possess.

To produce battle winners, the personnel must participate in activities that will make them physically and mentally robust, determined and imbued with an indomitable will that enables them to overcome any type of difficulty and adversarial situation. These activities are so chosen and conducted as to concurrently develop resoluteness, determination, courage, mutual trust, teamwork, self-confidence and self – control. These laudable attributes, which are essential for creating an effective military force, are best developed through participation in adventure sports such as the Expedition to the Mount Everest and Indian Navy consistently will promote many more of such activities. Continuing with its tradition of scaling new heights, the Navy over a period of the past couple of years built a team of mountaineers to climb the Mount Everest. In preparation for the daunting task ahead, the carefully selected team had to undertake a series of major mountaineering expeditions and attend fitness training programmes.  

The team negotiated, technically extremely challenging and hitherto unclimbed peak of Sujtilla (21,000 ft.) in Kumaon hills during September – October 2002, followed by Mt. Kamet (7756 meters) and Abi Gamin (7354 meters) during May – June 2003 and Saser Kangri IV (7410 meters) during September 2003, thus proving its capability to climb high and technical peaks. 

To build its physical capabilities for the Everest Expedition the team went through a training program at Ozone Fitness and Spa.  The program spread over forty days included the following activities: 

Day 1: Spinning (Group indoor cycling)

Day 2: Body Sculpting (High intensity circuit training)

Day 3: Yoga & Meditation (Flexibility and relaxation)

Day 4: The same cycle to follow

Day 7: Active rest  

These cardiovascular, endurance based training sessions were held exclusively in the “Group Fitness Activity basement” at Ozone and were closely monitored by a team of fitness professionals. The fitness instructors adapt and apply changes according to the needs/ requirement of the squad.

Indian Navy’s Mt. Everest Expedition – 2004

Team Profile

1.      Name   - CDR Satyabrata Dam – Team Leader

Age      - 38 years

About: A graduate from DAV College Chandigarh, Satya is a submariner and hails from Uttar Pradesh (U.P). He started climbing at the age of 10 and is an alumni of Alpine Schools of Chamonix (France), Innsbruck (Austria), ISM Switzerland and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling. He scaled his first major Himalayan peak at the young age of 12.  Ever since, he has climbed 29 major Himalayan peaks to date in his 28 years of climbing career. He is presently the Officer In Charge of the Indian Navy Mountaineering Cell, New Delhi.

Previous Expeditions: He has been a part of almost all the major mountain expeditions in various parts of the world, including the European Alps, Canadian Rockies, Yosemite (USA), Simian mountains, Blue Mountains (Australia), Atlas Mountains (Morocco), Southern Alps (New Zealand), Pamir, Tien Shan, Urals, Western Cape (South Africa), Japanese Alps, etc. Some of his major climbs outside the Himalayas are Mt Blanc, Matterhron, Grandes Jorasses, Elbrus, Khan Tengri, Kilimanjaro, Mt Cook, etc.

He has led many Himalayan expeditions and has participated in several international expeditions. Among the many expeditions he has led in the Indian Himalayas include Rimo, Nun, Satopanth, Saser Kangri, Padmanabh, Kamet, etc. He has many solo and first ascents to his credit and has climbed, explored and traveled extensively through the length and breadth of the Himalayas. Cdr S. Dam has been actively involved in promoting mountaineering among the people through training camps, organizing film shows and delivering slide talk shows for which he has been to Europe, UK, Africa, Japan, etc. He represented India in the International Climbing Meet held in Cape Town (South Africa) in 2003.

He holds the distinction of being the first and the only Indian speaker at the prestigious Kendal Mountaineering Film Festival at Kendal, UK. If successful, he would also be the only submariner-mountaineer in the world to summit the Mt. Everest. His mountaineering articles and photographs are regularly published in the world’s leading mountaineering journals and is also an internationally published author of crime fiction.

Hobbies / Skills

He loves writing, photography, criminology, badminton, cricket and equestrian.

2.      Name   - Lt. Amit Pande – Deputy Team Leader

Age      - 30 years

About: A graduate from Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) University, Shimla, Amit is from the Logistics branch of the Indian Navy. Having done his basic mountaineering course from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI) Darjeeling and advance from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) Uttarkashi, he is twice qualified in search and rescue course. He is presently the Deputy Officer In Charge of the Indian Navy Mountaineering Cell, New Delhi.

Previous Expeditions: Some of his major expeditions include Kinner Kailash, Trisuli (W), Thalay Sagar, Sujtilla, Kamet and Saser Kangri. He also made solo ascents to Jogin I and III in July 2002.

Hobbies/Skills: He is a keen Ornithologist (Bird watcher) and has great interest in flora and fauna.

3.      Name   - Lt. Cdr Abhishek Kankan

Age      - 33 years

About: Abhishek hails from Uttar Pradesh and is a technical cadre officer, from submarines. An alumni of the Rashtriya Indian Military College Dehradun, he belongs to the fifth batch of the Naval Engineering course and is also a marine commando. He did his basic mountaineering course from HMI, Darjeeling in 2003, where he was adjudged the “Best Student”. He is presently serving in Delhi on a submarine project.

Previous Expeditions: He summitted Mount Kamet in his maiden expedition. He is a climbing member of the Mt. Everest.

4.      Name   - Surg Lt Cdr P Anand

Age      -  35 years

About: Anand is a MD in Community Medicine from J.J M. Medical College and comes from Bangalore, Karnataka. He hails from the submarine arm. He studied through state merit and has teaching experience at Bellary and Tumkur Medical colleges, Karnataka. He did his basic mountaineering course from HMI, Darjeeling. He is presently serving as the medical officer on board submarine in Mumbai.

Previous Expeditions: He has taken part in Mt. Sujtilla and Mt. Kamet expeditions and has climbed above 6000 meters. He is the Everest expedition doctor

Hobbies/Skills: Over the years he has been a keen sportsman and was the winner of 100 mt Long Jump Athletics championship.

5.      Name   - Surg Lt Viking Bhanoo

Age      -   28 years

About: Viking hails from Lahoul District of Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) and is a medical graduate from Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla. He completed his basic mountaineering course from Directorate of Mountaineering & Allied Sports (DMAS), Manali. He is a climbing member of the Mt. Everest Expedition. He is presently serving as a Medical Officer at INS Angre in Mumbai.

Previous Expeditions: He has taken part in Indian Naval expeditions to  both peaks, Mt. Kamet and Abigamin Spring 2003 and Mt. Saser Kangri post monsoon 2003. He had also taken part in the winter training at Siachen Glacier 2003 and winter training at Siachen and Tangse (Karu) 2004.

Hobbies/Skills: Likes drawing and watching cartoon films. A keen sportsman, he has been actively playing badminton, carom and chess.

6.      Name   - Lt. K S Balaji

Age      -  32 years

About: Graduate from National Defence Academy (NDA) and Master of Tourism Administration (MTA) from Pondicherry University, Balaji hails from Tamilnadu.  He is an Executive Cadre officer and a Gunnery specialist. After a short unsuccessful stint with the Air Force he joined the Navy. He did his basic and advanced mountaineering from HMI, Darjeeling. He is a climbing member of Mt. Everest and is presently posted as an Instructor at Navy’s Gunnery School, Kochi.

Previous Expeditions: He has taken part in all Naval Expeditions and has climbed Sujtilla and above 7000 mt in Mt Saser Kangri.

Hobbies/Skills: An ardent sportsman and adventurist, he has represented the Navy in Basket Ball and Athletics. Enjoys reading, chess and organizing events. He has organized various shows for handicapped and disabled children.

7.      Name   - Lt. Lijo S. Chacko

Age      -  31 years

About: An Engineer from Naval College of Engineering, Chacko is from Kerela and is a submariner. He did his basic mountaineering from HMI, Darjeeling. He is presently posted in a submarine base in Vizag. He is the base camp manager for Mt.Everest expedition.

Previous Expeditions: He took part in the winter training at Siachen Glacier.

8.      Name   - S S Sandhu, IFA (N)

Age      -  48 years

About: The oldest member of the Mt. Everest team, S S Sandhu hails from Punjab and is a postgraduate in Defence Services. He is an avid adventure enthusiast who has kept his interest in high altitude climbing alive while performing diverse financial / audit jobs in different parts of the country. He is an alumni of Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) and Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington with Masters in English Literature from Delhi University and Defence Studies from Madras University. He is presently attached to the Navy as the financial advisor.

Previous Expeditions: He has helped organize major maiden mountaineering expeditions in the Defence Accounts Department and the CRPF. While leading these expeditions he has also summitted Mt. Dharmsura / Whitesail; Kullu Pumori; Jogin I and Jogin III. He has also done extensive high altitude treks in Garhwal, Western & Sikkim Himalayas.

9.      Name   - Raj Kumar, Master Chief Engine Room Artificer I

Age      -  33 years

About: Rajkumar is a Technical sailor from the submarine arm and hails from Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) He did his basic mountaineering from NIM, Uttarkashi and advance programme from DMAS, Manali. He is the first sailor to complete ‘B.S. Engineering Technology’ from BITS PILANI and is the first submariner to qualify as a Sky Diver. He is a climbing member of Mt. Everest expedition. He is presently posted in the Indian Navy Mountaineering Cell, New Delhi.

Previous Expeditions: He has taken part in all the Naval expeditions and climbed Sujtilla, Kamet and Saser Kangri IV.

Hobbies/Skills: Enjoys sight seeing and collecting information on the diverse cultures of India. An ardent sportsman, he has represented Southern Naval Command in boxing, athletics and cross-country.

10.  Name   - S.S. Kanna, Regulating Petty Officer

Age      -  30 years

About: Kanna is a regulating branch sailor and hails from Tamilnadu. He did his basic mountaineering from HMI, Darjeeling. He is presently posted at project Seabird in Karwar. He is a support team member for Everest.

Previous Expeditions: He took part in the winter training in Siachen Glacier. He took part in Mt. Saser Kangri expedition and climbed above 7000 meters. Trekked to Hemkund, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Amarnath and Muktinath (Nepal).

Hobbies/Skills: Keen interest in Volley Ball and Basket Ball 

11.  Name   - Rakesh Kumar, Leading Medical Assistant

Age      -  31 years

About: Rakesh is a medical branch sailor from the submarine arms and hails from Himachal Pradesh. He did his basic mountaineering course from HMI, Darjeeling. He is presently posted in a submarine in Mumbai. He is a climbing member for Everest.

Previous Expeditions: He took part in Mt. Kamet, Mt. Saser Kangri and Mt. B C Roy expedition. He climbed Abi Gamin and above 7000 meters in Saser Kangri.

12.  Name   - A K Singh, Leading Writer

Age      -  24 years

About: A K Singh hails from Uttar Pradesh (UP). He did his basic mountaineering course from NIM, Uttarkashi. He is presently posted in Vizag. He is a base camp member for Everest.

Previous Expeditions: He took part in the winter training in Siachen Glacier.

Hobbies/Skills: Likes to play Cricket and Football.

13.  Name   - Vikas Kumar, Leading Medical Assistant

Age      -  24 years

About: Vikas hails from Himachal Pradesh and is a medical branch sailor from the submarine arm. He is presently posted in Mumbai.

Previous Expeditions: He took part in the High Altitude Trekking Expedition to Sunderdunga Glacier – 2003, Trekking Expedition to Rohtang Pass – 2000, Winter training camp in Siachen Glacier – Dec 2003. He is a climbing member for Everest.

Hobbies/Skills: Likes reading medical books, watching adventure sports on TV as well as live. He is an ardent sportsman and represented Western Naval Command in Navy Cross-Country Championship and Navy Athletics Championship thrice.

14.  Name   - Nitin Singh, Seaman 1

Age      -  23 years

About: Nitin hails from UP and belongs to the hydrography cadre. Completed his Intermediate studies from National Inter college. His did his basic mountaineering course from NIM, Uttarkashi. He is presently posted on board a survey ship in Mumbai.

Previous Expeditions: Had undertaken Winter Training in Siachin Glacier. He is a climbing member for Everest

Hobbies/Skills: A keen sportsman and had played for under-15 Pt. D.D Memorial Cricket Tournament held in Lucknow. Also represented the Athletic team in Cochin in Command Watermanship Championship.

 

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