This week, The Musafir Stories speaks to Shubhangi Jeswal, a traveler and adventure seeker as she takes us with her to one of her most memorable journeys to the mountains!
Today's destination: Completing the Basic Mountaineering course (BMC) at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling
Nearest Airport: Bagdogra, Airport, West Bengal
Nearest Railway Station: Siliguri Junction railway station, West Bengal
Prerequisites - One needs to apply online and via mail to be accepted to the HMI. The pre-requisites also include a full body check up that an individual needs to pass in order to sign up for the BMC. Also, please note that there can be a waiting period of up to 1 year for admission, so please plan accordingly.
Packing - One can pack the necessary winter wear while travelling to the HMI institute in Darjeeling. However, equipment and other gear required for mountaineering will be provided by the HMI. The fee (7-8K INR) covers all the equipment and training.
Time of the year - April
Length of the itinerary: 28 days (10 days training at the HMI, Darjeeling; 5 day trek to base camp; 10 days of mountaineering at the glacier; 2 days for the return trip and Graduation ceremony on the final day!)
- Shubhangi starts off her journey from Sikkim where she completed a pre-planned itinerary and reaches Darjeeling by a shared cab from Bagdogra!
- The initial 10 day training at HMI has a daily routine consisting of acclimatization, PT (physical training), yoga and a strict diet.
- At the end of the 10 day training, there is a medical check up again after which the participants are cleared to go ahead.
- The traing is split up into 3 areas of importance - Rock craft, snow craft and ice craft.
- Shubhangi advises one to prepare oneself better with yoga, breathing and some strength exercises to be able to carry upto 20kgs of equipment whie trekking.
- The Himalayan Mountaineering institute is one of the first mountaineering institute and it was inaugurated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.
- The daily routine at the institute is very rigorous with the wake up bell sounding at 4:30AM, breakfast at 6:00AM, dinner at 7PM and sleep by 8PM.
- Daily briefings were given by instructors to the class of 80-90 which was further divided into groups called 'ropes'. The rockcraft training was provided over the first 10 days at the institute.
- Once this was completed, the team set out to the basecamp which is a trek of about 5 days where the group learned snow craft while trekking.
- From the basecamp, the team trekked every day for 2.5 hours daily to the Rangthong glacier to practice ice craft. This was done for the next 10 days. Here, the team learns to use the different equipment like ice axe, cramp-ons, harness, ropes, decenders, jumars etc.
- Shubhangi also gives us an insight into the grading system at the Institute, D for distinction, A for above average, B for average and C for below average.
- Challenges faced during the daily training routines from food, to hygeine to family as well as the motivation to keep going.
- Finally, Shubhangi talks about the joy of coming back, the graduation day and bitter sweet moment of leaving friends made over the duration of the course!