Mountaineering Courses in India

Background of mountaineering in India

Mountaineering in India can be credited to the Britishers, who conducted mountaineering expeditions with the purpose of explorations, the quest for global dominance, and the pursuit of human freedom to be found in the wilderness of high peaks in the Karakoram and the Himalayas.

A lot of early expeditions were done by the staff of The Doon School about which we shall in a separate article. Since the first mountaineering institute was founded there has been a rise in mountaineering in India. The easy access to the internet made the spread of mountaineering awareness rapid in the country.

After going through my mountaineering course and embarking on some of the quite challenging mountaineering expeditions and later working as a mountaineering instructor in the govt institutes I felt the importance and need of having access to a training program that addresses a handful of individuals pursuing the improvement, guidance, and mentorship in the mountaineering even after going through the training courses in the govt institutes.

Hence I decided to conduct a training program that offers training and mentorship in the essential mountaineering crafts such as rock, snow, ice, and other miscellaneous activities associated with mountaineering. This program is called the Mountaineering Mentorship Program (more about it at the end of the article).

Evolution of Mountaineering Institutes

Let us look at the chronology of the formation of various mountaineering-related establishments.

  1. In 1948: the Indian army established its High Altitude Warfare School in Jammu and Kashmir. The prime role of HAWS was to train the soldiers in mountain warfare in high altitude and for that matter in any mountain warfare scenario. The training establishment was limited to the men in uniform.
  2. 4th Nov 1954: After Mt Everest was successfully summited by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the then prime minister of India Pt. Jawahar lal Nehru presented India with its first mountaineering institute, the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute which was inaugurated in Darjeeling in West Bengal.
  3. In 1957: the Indian Mountaineering Foundation the apex body for coordinating, organizing, and supporting mountaineering expeditions in the country was established.
  4. 16th September 1961: Later the need was felt to have another mountaineering institute for the western Himalayan region. Hence a new Institute the “western Himalayan Mountaineering Institute” was inaugurated.

Mountaineering Courses

The course in mountaineering start from basic mountaineering, advance mountaineering, search and rescue and lastly Method of instructions. To transition from basic to advance and other higher courses one has to secure alpha grading. After securing alpha grading in advance mountaineering course you can choose any one of MOI or search & rescue one by one. Basic and advance courses are of 28 days in all the institutes. while search and rescue course is of shorter than 20 days.Training equipment, clothing, food and accommodation are provided. 

The positive side

The course opens the world of mountaineering through rock, snow, ice, and a lot of miscellaneous classes. The courses are offered at a subsidized rate hence it attracts a lot of non serious would-be trainees too which leads to serious drawback.

When I enrolled in BMC I was already seeking physical and mental challenges. An arena where I not only get mentored and trained in the craft of mountaineering but also had an opportunity to use the stored aggression and desperate desire to evolve. The course gave me ample challenges, learning opportunities, and a platform to prove myself a capable trainee. I was clear that I would pursue mountaineering seriously and make it my high-priority agenda in the coming years. Gradually I enrolled in higher courses and began to climb peaks even when my all mountaineering courses were not finished. This gave me an experience as a trainee for higher courses as well as evolved my personality.

Later I became a mountaineering instructor and by then I had already climbed a significant number of Himalayan peaks. This gave me an upper edge as a mountaineering instructor.

The drawback

Becoming proficient in mountaineering is life lifelong process just like in any other profession. To reach the pinnacle of what’s being driven out of each craft such as rock, snow, and ice, each of the craft must have a special training program instead of clubbing training for rock, snow, and ice into one. One can take a look at IFMGA  (International Federation of Mountain Guiding Association) and get to know what level of training is being provided at the international level. 

The training courses offered in the govt. Institutes are a of maximum 24-28 days.  The schedule is tight and the syllabus is vast. Hence there is a tremendous amount of data download and a lot of topics to practice. The number of trainees is high and time-limited the required amount of practice needed for each topic is limited. This brings the competence of an individual out but does not overrule the importance of more time required to learn  or practice the techniques to become proficient in the same. Hence one or two-time practical exposure is possible with the given high number of trainees and limited time.

To be able to apply the knowledge one has to retain the techniques learned. One tends to forget the very important details of a particular technique, maneuver, etc after the course is finished due to reasons such as non-availability of instructors outside the training institute setup, non-availability of expensive equipment, distance from mountains, and fellow trainees. This is the problem I faced. However, since I was constantly in touch with the mountaineering I could cope with the gaps in a short time. Not many could do it, then, and even today.

One training different aspirations

Not everyone who enrolled for the courses had serious mountaineering ambitions. I found that most of the trainees have come to experience the mountains through the course (some of them are aware of the rigors involved and may had no idea). Some just kept doing the courses but never pursued mountaineering, some became ardent trekkers and only a handful of the trainees were on the quest to become better and climb high peaks. 

Mountaineering mentorship program

Until I reached the mountaineering institutes as an instructor I was always devoid of mountaineering mentors outside the institutes. I realized that people who are trying to improve their craft in mountaineering are seeking mountaineering mentors.

Hence I designed a training course by the name mountaineering mentorship program. This course aims to 

  • train individuals getting into mountaineering as freshers.
  •  transitioning from trekking to mountaineering.
  • and those who are seeking mentorship and refresher for the different mountaineering crafts.

The Mountaineering mentorship program is divided into phases. Each phase is for rock, snow, and ice craft separately. In the training theory and practical classes are conducted to give thorough exposure to the craft. The strength is kept low to maintain the high-quality time and attention given to each trainee.

To know the details of the course you may click here.

As a mountaineering instructor, promoting such a program becomes instrumental in nurturing a community of well-rounded and proficient mountaineers, preserving the spirit and ethos of this adventurous pursuit for generations to.

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