New high for ITBP,to try skiing down Everest

With the requisite permissions recently coming in from China,a contingent of mountaineers from the Indo Tibetan Border Police...

Written by Raghvendra Rao | New Delhi | Published: January 19, 2009 1:10 am

With the requisite permissions recently coming in from China,a contingent of mountaineers from the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) is all set to take a shot at doing what nobody has successfully done till now — skiing down the 8,848-metre-high Mount Everest on the China side.

A 28-member team,comprising men who have excelled in Winter Olympics,is currently undergoing training at the ITBP’s Mountaineering and Skiing Institute at Auli in Uttarakhand. At around 3,000 feet,Auli is well-known for offering some of the best skiing slopes in the country,and the recent snow has only helped the team’s cause.

“Eight of the 28 mountaineers who climb the Everest will ski down the China side. This will be a world record since nobody has been able to achieve this so far despite many attempts,” an ITBP official said.

The feat is being attempted on the north-side route,falling in China,as the south-side climb through Nepal is not only “crowded” but also considered technically less daunting.

“As many as 17 attempts have been made to ski down the Everest on the China side but without success. A European mountaineer came close to achieving the feat but eventually couldn’t,” the official added.

To be led by DIG Harbhajan Singh,the ITBP team will commence its expedition sometime in mid-March and is expected to take a shot at the world record in May this year.

The ITBP had originally wanted to attempt the feat in 2008 but could not since restrictions had been put on the north-side route by China for the smooth ascent of the Beijing Olympics torch to the world’s highest peak.

Interestingly,while China has agreed to let the ITBP team ski down Everest,it has denied permission to them to carry their own communication equipment,citing security reasons.

Sources believe that since the ITBP’s communication equipment is encrypted,the Chinese authorities would have had no way to monitor it,and hence the denial of permission. The ITBP contingent will now use satellite phones for communication.

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