Interview: Mountaineers should prepare for at least two years says Diljinder Singh Bachhal

Assistant Sub-Inspector Diljinder Singh Bachhal, who became the first Punjab police officer to climb Mount Everest, shared the experiences of his journey to the world’s highest peak with The Indian Express

Written by Jagdeep Singh Deep | Published:July 3, 2017 8:04 am
Diljinder Singh Bachhal, Mount Everest, Mount Everest climbing, chandigarh, latest news, indian express Daljinder Singh Express Archive

Now you have climbed the Mount Everest, your dream has come true, how was it to stand on top of the world?

It was my dream come true. I had dreamt of of climbing the highest peak in the world. It was a great experience that a man from a small village could achieve this dream to reach the top of the world. When I was was at base camp, I called my family and told them that I will set an example for all youngsters in Punjab.

How many days did it take you to reach the top?

I started my climb from Base Camp on May 16. I reached Camp 4 on May 20. The next day, I started on the final stretch of the climb at 8.15 am. It took around 24 hours to reach at the top. It was the morning of May 22 when I summitted. One problem arose when I was climbing. My sherpa, to whom I had paid Rs 1 lakh, fell sick and could not climb with me. If a sherpa is not going with you, it is difficult for the mountaineer to monitor the Oxygen cylinder which is the lifeline on Everest. I had to take the help of another sherpa when I was at 8,000 feet. It is problematic because you don’t have the familiarity with each other that you need for the climb.

How difficult is the trek from Camp 4?

Camp 4 is located at around 26,000 feet. From there, the entire way up to the summit is called the ‘Death Zone’. Though, there is a rope which assists the mountaineer but the trek is very dangerous and along narrow paths We cannot carry anything to eat or drink except water. I took 750 ml bottle of water, I had to make it last for 36 hours.

How is it authenticated that you climbed Everest?

Yes, after the climb, we mountaineers have to come back to Kathmandu where the department of tourism of Nepal awards the certificates. I have a certificate for my climb.

Were you given any commendation by the police administration?

Punjab DGP Suresh Arora presented me with a certificate.

Many youngsters want to climb the Mount Everest. What are your tips for them?

I would like to tell youngsters that they should prepare themselves physically well so that they do not face any problem during the expedition. Before going for the expedition, mountaineers should prepare for at least two years so that he can adapt to the harsh weather. I want to train more youngsters in Punjab for mountaineering.

How safe is the climb?

I saw two bodies of climbers while I was climbing the peak. I don’t know when they died. When I was coming back, I saw two mountaineers were lying along the trail and they were in bad shape. I tried to speak to them but my sherpa told me not to stop there because if I could also fall ill if I prolonged my stay at that spot. Nobody took care of the two men. They did not have the oxygen cylinders. I don’t know what happened to them. When I was about three hours away from the Camp 4, I saw that a mountaineer who was from Philippines was also lying along the trek. He had run out of oxygen on his way down to Camp 4. I asked my Sherpa to give our extra cylinder to him. He first refused, then agreed to do so for a payment, which I later made to the company.

Were there any anxious moments on your expedition?

An Everest expedition is a serious business. My most anxious moment was when my Sherpa refused to go to the top with me as he fell ill. I had to take the help of some other Sherpas. There was a communication problem. Many times, we could not understand each other. It was also funny. Seeing the Philippines mountaineer lying sick on the trail, was another anxious moment. I was thinking: This could have happened to me as well.

Any other difficulties you faced, apart from having to change your sherpa?

There are many problems. Apart from the natural problems, exploitation by private companies is one of the biggest issues. The companies operating there are minting money at the cost of mountaineers’ dreams. The firms have increased the cost of the expedition which every mountaineer cannot meet.

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