Colonel Ranveer Jamwal becomes first Indian to summit the seven highest mountains in the world


NEW DELHI: Indian Army officer Colonel Ranveer Singh Jamwal has become the first Indian to summit the seven highest mountains across the seven continents, including climbing Mount Everest three times.

This also makes him the first from the Indian Army to climb the seven highest mountains. Having started this adventure feat with Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in 2010, he achieved his final success with Mount Vinson in Antarctica last month. During this period, he had also climbed the world’s highest mountain, Everest, three times. This included being one of the leaders of an expedition of seven women army officers. But, all these summits were not without its challenges, including the extreme weather and climbing conditions, avoiding logistical help and in one particular place being ambushed by tribals.

The recipient of the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award- India’s highest adventure award- later also climbed six mountains of above 20,000 feet in Chile. What is important to note is that this was done in a world record time of 10 days.

Jamwal, who is a rescue specialist, was also involved in rescue operations during the Nepal earthquake in 2015, which killed about 9,000 people.

He began his journey into climbing in 2003 after being enrolled in a mountaineering course at the army’s High Altitude Warfare School in Sonamarg, Jammu and Kashmir. “This was my
karmabhumi (land of performing deeds and earning their consequences). It was here that I first climbed a mountain as high as 5,000 metres,” said Jamwal.

He then joined the Army Adventure Wing that took him to climbing higher mountains. However, tragedy struck him in 2009. He had lost a finger due to a frostbite. It happened when he with a group of climbers were stuck at Mount Mana in Uttarakhand. “For seven hours, we were in the open at 23,000 feet, due to a blizzard. The rope we had fixed for our climb was buried under snow. The only option for us was to wait it out. I was lucky to only lose a finger, otherwise we would have died,” he recalled.

This episode had left him “down a bit”, although it didn’t stop him. A year later, he was off to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. “I wanted to do something good. That’s how I started towards climbing the top seven peaks,” he said.

In 2011, he received a call for an Everest expedition for 2012. He was the deputy leader of the team comprising of the women climbers from the army. “It was my first Everest expedition…Initially there were 20 women and we finally selected seven. They were good officers with a strong mental aptitude. All seven of them climbed. It was an honour to go with them,” he said.

He again climbed the mountain in 2013 and 2016. He, however, explained that it is always risky to summit it. “Lot of people tell me that it would be easy for me now. But you need to understand that it is Mount Everest, the highest point on earth. Every time there is a different scenario and challenge…In 2012, there was a huge blizzard…about 15 people had tried to summit and five of them died due to hypothermia…2013 again posed a different challenge because Khumbu glacier was moving at a fast pace…We later went in 2016 and I thought it will be better this time, but there was a heavy blizzard again,” he said.

In between his Everest expeditions, Jamwal climbed Mount Aconcagua in South America in January 2013. Then Mount Elbrus, the highest in Europe in June 2014. In October 2015, he climbed Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania. He recalled this being a tough one. “We had to trek through tropical rainforests for days to reach the base of the mountain. It was constantly raining We also had to be careful of the tribals in the region. They had ambushed us. Luckily, we had locals with us and they talked us out of it,” he said.

The next event was climbing Mount Denali in North America in June 2017. He remembers this clearly due to the lack of support here. “Its arctic environment with extreme temperatures and harsh storms, and its great height above the Alaskan plain make it a severe test of personal strength. Also without a logistics company and a guide, but just three friends, it was more difficult,”he explained.

His last climb was Mount Vinson on January 4. It has been a month since he is back to his unit and as he puts it is “resting and recuperating”. He has not fixed his next adventure, but says, “We cannot challenge mountains. It has to be respected. I am not a winner on a mountain, but just a survivor. It is the mountain which allows me to climb. The next aim has not been decided, but I am sure it will be something good.”

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