by Editorial

Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh flagged-in a climb-a-thon, organised by Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling to celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ in New Delhi on Tuesday. The climb-a-thon was organised at four smaller peaks of the Sikkim Himalayas from 20 to 25 April 2021. The climb-a-thon, under the leadership of Group Captain Jai Kishan, was conducted at Mt Rhenock, Mt Frey, Mt BC Roy and Mt Palung, by a team of 125 mountaineers.

The National Flag, measuring 7,500 sq ft and weighing 75 kg, was hoisted atop Mt Rhenock at an altitude of 16,500 ft above sea level. The point where the National Flag was hoisted has been named after the first freedom fighter from Sikkim, Trilochan Pokhrel, fondly remembered as Gandhi Pokhrel. The feat was recorded as the biggest Indian National Flag hoisted atop a mountain in the Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records. The team also performed a world record 75-hour nonstop Surya Namaskar 2.51 lakh times at HMI, Darjeeling.

Appreciating HMI for this unique initiative, Singh stated that such events will promote patriotism through adventure among the youth. He conveyed his best wishes to the team and released the certificates of participation for the team. Group Captain Jai Kishan presented the replica of the Indian Flag to the Raksha Mantri. Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and other senior officials of the Ministry of Defence were also present on the occasion.

The National Flag is planned to be displayed at different locations across the country, including the Statue of Unity in Gujarat on 31 October 2021; National War Memorial/South Block in New Delhi on 16 December 2021 on the occasion of Swarnim Vijay Diwas; Lal Chowk in Srinagar on 15 August 2022; Andaman & Nicobar Islands on 23 March 2022 and Kanyakumari. In addition, the team plans to display the Indian Flag over the highest peak of the South Pole in January 2022.


The IAF had organised a tri-services, all women mountaineering expedition to Mt. Manirang (21,625 ft) as part of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mohotsav’ celebrations. The team of 15 mountaineers, led by Wg Cdr Bhavana Mehra, was flagged off by Air Marshal VPS Rana, Air Officer-in-Charge Administration. The team scaled the peak on 15 August. The Air Marshal encouraged the team to achieve their aim and appreciated the efforts by the organisers to facilitate the expedition. The other 14 members of the team included Wg Cdr N Linyu, Wg Cdr Nirupama Pandey, Wg Cdr Lalita Mishra, Wg Cdr Vyomika Singh, Flt Lt Komal Pahuja, Lt Col Geetanjali Bhatt, Maj Saumya Shukla, Maj Veenu Mor, Maj Usha Kumari, Maj Rachna Hooda, Lt Cdr Nandini Damroy, Lt Cdr Sino Wilson, Lt Cdr Chham Kumari, and Lt Cdr Renu Ramdurg. Mt Manirang is located at the border of the Kinnaur and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh. The Manirang Pass is located close to the peak and is one of the early trade routes between these two districts.


Rajnath Singh flagged in the Indian Army Skiing Expedition, ARMEX-21, in New Delhi in July. The ARMEX-21 was conducted in the mountain ranges of the Himalayan region to promote the adventure activity in the country and the Indian Army. The expedition was flagged off at Karakoram Pass in Ladakh on 10 March 2021 and culminated at Malari in Uttarakhand on 6 July 2021, covering 1,660 km in 119 days. During the expedition, the team travelled through several passes of 5,000-6,500 m, glaciers, valleys and rivers. The team also interacted with the local population of the far-flung areas. It was able to gather detailed information about several hitherto unchartered areas along the international boundary and the hinterland.

Singh congratulated the team on the successful completion of the challenging expedition and lauded them for their courage and resilience. Terming the expedition as extraordinary, he said not only did the team completed a thrilling journey, but also conducted an operational recce of the region. The Raksha Mantri commended the courage, dedication and spirit of the Armed Forces and expressed satisfaction that the safety and security of the country are in safe hands. He exuded confidence that the success of ARMEX-21 will inspire a new generation of adventurers across the nation. Sharing the team’s experiences of the journey, Major AK Singh, the team leader said there were several occasions when their resolve was tested. One of the most difficult moments the team faced was while crossing Kalindi Khal in Garhwal. He said that the team had to set camp at an altitude of 5,500 m due to the white-out conditions. The team leader described the interaction with the civilian population residing in remote areas as a refreshing experience. Their simplicity and helping attitude were heart-warming, said Singh, adding that the expedition served to bring fringe populations closer and strengthened their faith in the Indian Army’s ability to reach out to them in case of need.

The team members explained how traversing long distances in the high mountains differs from scaling of peaks which is the more common form of adventure activity in the mountains. Traverse can test your endurance like no other activity, they said. The team remained beyond the reach of logistics and rescue teams for long durations which necessitate the carriage of loads more than 30 kg by each member of the team. Unlike ascent of peaks where a very small part of the team actually scales the peak, in traversing long distances the entire team completes the adventure activity. Team spirit was the key, the team stressed. The team members informed the Raksha Mantri how they were able to cover long distances by use of skis. They covered 66 km in a day while crossing the Lamkhaga Pass, it was the longest distance covered by them in a single day during the entire expedition. Singh also felicitated the team members of ARMEX-21.

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