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Top 10 Indian Legends of Mountaineering

The desire to reach the unreachable and conquer the greatest heights has inspired many generations of Indians.

Bachendri Pal Everest

23rd of May 1984, Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to ascent Mount Everest.


Bikash Chand Katoch

Updated: 26 Jun 2023 7:27 AM GMT

Arunima SinhaBecause of its high altitudes, the risk of falling to an icy death with one misstep and conditions that are not habitable for long, mountain climbing is undoubtedly the most dangerous and toughest sport.

India, which has the highest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas, is indeed a fantastic place for mountaineering. These mountains are high enough to have permanent snow cover on the summits.

The desire to reach the unreachable and conquer the greatest heights has motivated and inspired many generations of Indians. Achieving their goal was hard and tough, but willpower, patience, determination, pure love for the mountains together with certain technical skills were everything these people needed.

Bachendri Pal

Bachendri Pal is the first Indian woman to climb the summit of the world's highest mountain Mount Everest.

Bachendri Pal, an Indian mountaineer, was born on May 24, 1954. She was born in the Bhotiya family in Nakuri village of the Uttarkashi district in the state of Uttarakhand. She was one of five children to Hansa Devi and Kishan Singh Pal – a border tradesman who supplied groceries from India to Tibet.

She started mountaineering at the age of 12 when she, along with her friends, scaled a 13,123 ft high peak during a school picnic. She completed her M.A. and B.Ed. from D.A.V. Post Graduate College, Dehradun. She was the first female who had enrolled in the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and during her course, she successfully climbed Mount Gangotri (23,419 ft) and Mount Rudragaria (19,091 ft). In that time, she became an instructor at the National Adventure Foundation (NAF).

Bachendri Pal's family and relatives were against the idea of her becoming a professional mountaineer and wanted her to become a teacher instead. After summiting plenty of smaller peaks, she was selected to join India's first mixed-gender team to attempt an expedition to Mount Everest in 1984 .The team commenced its ascent in May 1984. Her team almost met disaster when an avalanche buried its camp, and more than half the group abandoned the attempt because of injury or fatigue. Bachendri Pal and the remainder of the team pressed on to reach the summt. On 22 May 1984, Ang Dorje (the Sherpa) and some other climbers joined the team to ascend to the summit of Mount Everest; Bachendri was the only woman in this group. On 23 May 1984, the team reached the summit of Mount Everest and Bachendri Pal created history. She achieved the feat of climbing Everest a day before her 30th birthday.

Bachendri Pal continued to be active after ascending the highest peak in the world. She successfully led an "Indo-Nepalese Women's Mount Everest Expedition", an all-women team of rafters in "The Great Indian Women's Rafting Voyage" and the "First Indian Women Trans-Himalayan Expedition."

Bachendri Pal receiving Padma Bhushan Award from President Ram Nath Kovind in 2019

She was honoured with the Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 1986. She is also the first recipient of Virangana Lakshmibai Rashtriya Samman by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in 2013. She was also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in the year 1990.

She has also been conferred with various other awards and accolades -

Gold Medal for Excellence in Mountaineering by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (1984)

Padma Shri – the fourth highest civilian award of the Republic of India (1984)

National Adventure Award by the Government of India (1994)

Honorary Doctorate from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University (formerly known as Garhwal University) (1997)

Padma Bhushan – the third-highest civilian award of the Republic of India (2019)

Narendra Dhar Jayal

Narendra Dhar Jayal was the founder principal of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.

Narendra Dhar Jayal (Nandu Jayal), an Indian mountaineer and an officer of the Bengal Sappers and the Indian Army Corps of Engineers, was born on 25 June 1927. The legendary mountaineer of the nation is also referred to as the "Marco Polo of Indian Mountaineering" as he encouraged the youth of India to take up mountaineering.

His father Pandit Chakra Dhar Jayal was Diwan of the hill state of Tehri Garhwal. Nandu Jayal and his cousin Nalni Dhar joined The Doon school in 1935. He stayed in the school for nine years, where he also became captain of school boxing. In 1940 R. L. Holdsworth joined the Doon school as headmaster and became Nandu's housemaster. Nandu was fascinated with Holdsworth's interests in mountaineering.

At the age of 16, he scaled the Awar Valley in Uttarakhand. He also climbed the Trisul peak with his teacher Gurdial Singh, who was also an eminent mountaineer. He left the school in December 1944 and was immediately selected in the Army as he was given high rating by the selection committee board due to his outstanding interest in training subordinates. In 1948, Jayal went to Switzerland to receive the Ski Teacher’s certificate.

Narendra Dhar Jayal

He was also appointed as a Chief instructor at the Winter Warfare School. In 1950, he organized the first Sappers summit to Bandarpunch which has an elevation of 6,316 m. He also carried out a strategic reconnaissance of the Garhwal Himalayas in 1950-1951. Jayal was the founder principal of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute at Darjeeling, with Tenzing Norgay of Everest fame as the Chief Instructor. He also scaled the Karakoram mountain range where he conquered Saken (24,130 ft) and Sakang (24,150 ft) in 1957, the third-highest peak in the Karakoram Range. The legendary mountaineer died due to pulmonary oedema on the expedition at Camp I to Cho Oyu (28,867 ft) in 1958.

On his death, the then Prime Minister of India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru paid rich tributes to Jayal saying "the Major has set an example of courage and adventure which should inspire our young people. The news of his death came to me as a shock and I feel that the country has suffered the loss of her finest mountaineer..."

The Indian Mountaineering Foundation had a Nandu Jayal Fund and published, along with the Corps of Engineers, a book Nandu Jayal and Indian Mountaineering, which contained articles on various aspects of Indian Mountaineering by him. Nandu Jayal's life and career motivated many young officers of the Corps to take up mountaineering, most prominent of whom were his nephews, Harsh Vardhan Bahuguna and Jai Vardhan Bahuguna.

Mohan Singh Kohli

Mohan Singh Kohli led the 1965 Indian expedition which put nine men on the summit of Mount Everest.

Captain Manmohan Singh Kohli, an Indian mountaineer and an officer in the Indian Navy and Indo-Tibetan Border Police, was born on 11 December 1931 at Haripur, Punjab (currently in Pakistan). During his years with the Indian Navy, he introduced adventure as part of training. During 15 years with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, from its inception, he turned the force into a formidable mountaineering organisation.

Captain MS Kohli, centre, at the summit of the Everest on May 20, 1965 with Sonam Gyatso (in a read shirt), Captain N Kumar next to him and Captain AS Cheema (extreme left) (Source: Yourstory)

He is best known as India's first successful leader of the epoch-making Indian Everest Expedition in 1965. On May 20, 1965, two members of the expedition, Capt. A.S. Cheema and Nawang Gombu, climbed the peak on the first day. Two days later, on May 22, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Wangyal reached the summit and on May 24, C.P. Vohra and Ang Kami scaled Everest only to be followed by Captain H.P.S. Ahluwalia, Harish Chandra Singh Rawat and Phu Dorjee on May 29, 1965. The achievement electrified the nation. Nine climbers reached the summit, creating a world record that India held for 17 years. It made India the fourth country to conquer this most revered of peaks for mountaineers. On return of the team from Nepal to India, breaking all protocol, the Prime Minister headed the reception at the airport. In another unprecedented move, an Arjuna Award for the entire team and Padma Bhushan/Padma Shri for all eleven team members was immediately announced. A full-length film on the expedition was released all over India and abroad.

His tallest tribute came from none other than the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi: “The record of Commander Kohli’s expedition will find special mention in history. It was a masterpiece of planning, organization, teamwork, individual effort and leadership”. Gandhi also described the 1965 success as one of India's six major achievements after Independence.

Starting with Saser Kangri (25,170 ft) in 1956, he has been on 20 major Himalayan expeditions which included India's first ascent of Nanda Kot (17,287 ft) and maiden ascent of Annapurna III. He belongs to the exclusive band of three climbers in the world who, in 1962, spent three consecutive nights, two without oxygen, on Everest in raging blizzards at 27,650 feet. On joining Air-India in 1971, Kohli conceived and personally promoted ‘Trekking in the Himalayas’ all over the world by visiting over 50 countries and making over 1000 presentations which included world's most popular TV programmes, ‘To Tell the Truth’ and ‘David Frost Show’. On 3 December 1978, he flew over the South Pole.

Kohli co-founded the Himalayan Environment Trust in 1989. He had 14-year tenure in the Indian Mountaineering Foundation as Vice-President/President. He was awarded IMF Gold Medal as well as Nishan-e-Khalsa by the Punjab Government. Delhi Government also awarded him the Most Distinguished Citizen of Delhi award.

He has also been conferred with various other awards and accolades -

Padma Bhushan

Arjuna Award

Ati Vishisht Seva Medal

Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2007 in lifetime achievement category

Arunima Sinha

Arunima Sinha is the world's first female amputee to scale Mount Everest

Arunima Sinha, an Indian mountaineer and sportswoman, was born on 20 July 1989 in Ambedkar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh. Her father was in the Indian Army and her mother was a supervisor in the health department. She had an elder sister and a younger brother. she was bereaved at the age of 3 when her father passed away, her mother tried to take care of her family. From childhood, playing sports was her favourite activity. She was a national volleyball player. She wanted to join the paramilitary forces. She got a call letter from the CISF but her life completely changed after an accident.

On 12 April 2011, she boarded an express train, where some robbers pushed her from the running train. After which she fell on the railway track and another train from parallel track crushed her leg completely. With serious damage in the leg and pelvic region, doctors amputated her leg to save her life. Her life was filled with dismay after this incident & she has to use a prosthetic leg. But this didn’t deter her courage and while still being treated in the hospital, she resolved to climb Mount Everest.

She contacted Bachendri Pal and after that Arunima join a basic mountaineering course from Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and she was encouraged or motivated by her elder brother Omprakash to climb Mount Everest.. During her preparatory phase, she climbed Island Peak in 2012, which is 6150 m.

Climbing the Mount Everest with two able legs is extremely difficult, so we can imagine how challenging it would have been with a prosthetic leg. Sinha and Susan Mahout, a USAF instructor, who had together climbed Mount Chaser Sangria (6,622 meters or 21,726 feet) in 2012 under the guidance of Hendrick Pal started their ascent of Mount Everest. After a hard toil of 17 hours, Sinha reached the summit of Mount Everest on 21 May 2013, as part of the Eco Everest Expedition becoming the first female amputee to scale Everest.

Arunima Sinha

She has climbed the highest peaks of all the continents and hoisted the national flag of India there. She has summited Mount Everest in Asia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa (5,895 m), Mount Elbrus in Europe (5,642 m), Mount Kosciuszko in Australia (2,228 m), Mount Aconcagua in South America, and Mount Denali in North America. She has also summited Mount Vinson in Antarctica in January 2019.

In 2013, she was awarded the honorary doctorate by the University of Strathclyde for her inspirational achievements. In 2015, Arunima was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India. She was also awarded Tenzing Norgay, Highest Mountaineering Award, which is equivalent to Arjuna Award in India. She also wrote the book "Born again on the mountain" in 2014, which has motivated a lot of people.

Arunima Sinha is now dedicated towards social welfare and opened a free sports academy for poor and disabled people. She is donating all the financial aids she is getting through awards and seminars for the same cause.

Santosh Yadav

Santosh Yadav is the first woman in the world to climb Mount Everest twice

Santosh Yadav, an Indian mountaineer, was born on 10th October 1967 in Joniyawas village in Rewari district of Haryana. She was the sixth child in a family of five boys. Yadav grew up in a rural household where social taboos against women were already strong. Intially she attended a local school then she attended Maharani College in Jaipur, where she was able to see mountaineers climbing Aravalli Range from her room. She was inspired by this to join Uttarkashi's Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. She completed her graduation in 1987 and obtained her NCC ‘C’ Certificate in the following year. She joined the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi in 1989, where she completed her basic mountaineering course. She then went on to complete several advanced mountaineering courses, including the search and rescue course. Yadav’s dedication to mountaineering led her to leave her job as a schoolteacher and pursue mountaineering full-time.

In 1989, Santosh Yadav got the prestigious opportunity to join the 9-Nation International Climbing Camp-cum-Expedition to Nun-Kun area. Out of the 31 strong team, Yadav was the only female member to undertake the expedition. After she successfully completed it and scaled Mount White Needle, which was an arduous climb of 21,653 ft.

It was after this expedition that Yadav set her sights on Mount Everest, a peak that had scared many and had also claimed several lives. In 1990, she was selected as a member of the Indo-Taiwanese Saser Kangri-I (25,170 ft) Expedition. By now, Yadav had gained a reputation to take the most difficult routes to mountain tops, and she repeated this feat here as well. She became the world’s first woman to scale the highest peak of Eastern Karakoram from the West Face route.

Santosh Yadav receiving Padma Shri from the President KR Narayanan in 2000

In 1992, Yadav began her ascent to Mount Everest and successfully completed it from the difficult Kangshung Pass, becoming the youngest woman in the world to achieve it in1992. Within twelve months, she became a member of an Indo-Nepalese Women's expedition and scaled Everest the second time, thus setting the record as the first woman to have scaled Everest twice. During her Everest climb, she won hearts by saving the life of her fellow climber, Mohan Singh by sharing the oxygen cylinder. In addition to her Mount Everest climbs, Yadav has also climbed several other peaks, including Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, and Gasherbrum II.

She also remained as an officer in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. In addition to her mountaineering achievements, Santosh Yadav has also worked as a motivational speaker, inspiring people with her stories of perseverance, courage, and determination. She has also established a mountaineering institute in Haryana, where she shares her knowledge and experience with young people who are interested in mountaineering.

On 30 March 2000, the honourable President of India bestowed her with the Padmashri award. Her twice summit to the highest peak of the world has listed her name in the Guinness Book of the World Records in 1994. Santosh Yadav has received several awards and honors for her mountaineering achievements and contributions to the field. Some of these include:

Arjuna Award in 1999

Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in 1994

IMF Gold Medal in 1993

Avtar Singh Cheema

Avatar Singh Cheema was the first Indian and sixteenth person in world to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Avtar Singh Cheema was born in 1933 in Sri Ganganagar of Rajasthan state.

Indian Army is widely respected. Of all their operations, climbing the Mount Everest was the toughest experience. Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world with an altitude of 8,848 metres (29,028.87 ft).Despite harsh weather conditions, redundancy in oxygen, Indian Army decided to climb the mountain with grit and determination for the first time. After two failed attempts undertaken by the Indian Army, It was only in the third attempt on 20 May, 1965, Colonel Avtar Singh Cheema reached the summit of the mountain. He was the first Indian to bring pride to the nation by climbing the tallest mountain.

Along with 8 others he was a part of the third mission undertaken by the Indian Army. The Indian Everest Expedition 1965 put 9 mountaineers on the summit on 20 May, a record that lasted 17 years, and was led by Captain M S Kohli. Cheema's fellow summiters were Nawang Gombu, Sonam Gyatso, Sonam Wangyal, Chandra Prakash Vohra, Ang Kami, H. P. S. Ahluwalia, Harish Chandra Singh Rawat and Phu Dorjee.

Captain Avtar Singh Cheema and Nawang Gombu were the first of 9 summiteers from Indian ’65 expedition.

He was a captain in the 7th Battalion, The Parachute regiment at that time. Later he was promoted to colonel and commanded his battalion. He is also founder of Guru Harkrishan Public School in Sri Ganganagar District, Rajasthan. He was brave soldier who fought a losing battle with Luekemia and died in 1989.

Colonel Cheema was awarded Arjuna Award and the highest civilian award, Padma Shri, for his outstanding achievements.

Premlata Agarwal

Premlata Agrawal is the first Indian woman to scale the Seven Summits, the seven highest continental peaks of the world and the oldest Indian women to summit Mount Everest at the age of 48 years.

Premlata Agarwal, an Indian mountaineer, was born in 1963 in Darjeeling, West Bengal. Her father Ramawtar Garg is a businessman. Presently she is working with Tata Steel as an officer and lives in Jugsalai town, of Jamshedpur in Jharkhand state. She is married to Vimal Agarwal, a senior journalist. The couple have two daughters. In the year 1999 she started mountaineering at the age of 36 years. At Dalma Hill in Jamshedpur where the Tata Steel Adventure Foundation, led by Bachendri Pal, hosts Dalma Hill Walking Competition annually, she decided to take part one year. After that trek she realised that she was quite fit. Destiny made her meet Bachendri Pal that changed her identity completely not only personally but also professionally. She understood trekking was a form of self discovery and breaking the stereotypical boundaries put on women of her age.

Her mentor suggested joining a basic course on mountaineering where the tenure was 28 days. Back in those times, there were not many women of her age who took up such sports.

She took part in an Island Peak Expedition in Nepal (20,600 ft) in 2004, the Karakoram Pass (18,300 ft) and Mount Stok Kangri (20,150 ft) in 2006, the First Indian Women’s Thar Desert Expedition in 2007 which involved a 40 day Camel Safari along the International Border from Bhuj in Gujarat – Rann of Kutch – Thar in Rajasthan, up to Wagah Border in Punjab. These achievements were also recognized as a National Record and found place in the Limca Book of Records.

Premlata Agarwal

In 2011, she was part of a 22-member eco-Everest expedition team, the Indian contingent also included Sunita Singh, Narendar Singh, Pawan Grewal, Sushma and Vikas Kaushik, besides climbers Rodrigo Raineri of Brazil and David Liano of Mexico. She spent over a month climbing around Everest Base Camps to acclimatise. On 20 May 2011, she became the oldest Indian woman to have scaled the world's tallest peak, Mount Everest (29,032 ft.); at the age of 48 years. Later, Sangeeta Sindhi Bahl, hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, broke Premlata's record on 19 May 2018 and became the oldest Indian woman to scale Mount Everest doing it at the age of 53.

Seven Summits climbing details (Peak - Elevation -Continent - Date of Summit):

1 Mount Everest 8,848 m (29,029 ft) Asia 20 May 2011

2 Aconcagua 6,961 m (22,838 ft) South America 10 February 2012

3 Denali 6,194 m (20,322 ft) North America 23 May 2013

4 Kilimanjaro 5,895 m (19,341 ft) Africa 6 June 2008

5 Mount Elbrus 5,642 m (18,510 ft) Europe 12 August 2012

6 Mount Vinson 4,892 m (16,050 ft) Antarctica 5 January 2013

7 Puncak Jaya 4,884 m (16,024 ft) Australia 22 October 2013

She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2013 and Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in 2017 for her achievements in the field of mountaineering. She is also associated with social services like planting trees.

Sonam Gyatso

Sonam Gyatso was the second Indian man, the seventeenth man in world and the first person from Sikkim to summit Mount Everest.

Sonam Gyatso, an Indian mountaineer, was born on Born in 1923 at Kewzing, a south Sikkimese village at the foot of Kangchenjunga. Sonam Gyatso started his career in 1946 as a school teacher at Lachung, in the northern part of sikkim. After three years of service, he joined the Indian Air Force as a head constable in 1949 which gave him the opportunity to attend a basic mountaineering course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling in 1954. His first chance at mountaineering came in 1957 when he was selected for the Nanda Devi expedition, but the attempt was unsuccessful. However, he completed his first successful expedition when he scaled the 26,897 ft Cho Oyu peak in 1958, as a member of an all-Indian expedition, the first time an Indian team climbed a peak of that height.

Gyatso followed his Cho Oyu success with several successful climbs such as Annapurna III in 1961, Kanchengyao in 1961, Hathi Parbat in 1963, Rathong peak and Langpo Chung in 1964. In between, he attempted Mount Everest twice, in 1960 and 1962, but could not scale the peak on both attempts.

He was one of the nine summiters of the first successful Indian Everest Expeditions that climbed Mount Everest in May 1965 led by Captain M S Kohli. The first time that the oldest man at the time, Sonam Gyatso at age 42, and the youngest man Sonam Wangyal at age 23, climbed Everest together was on 22 May 1965. He became the oldest person to scale the peak in 1965 and when he spent 50 minutes at the peak, he set a world record for spending the longest time at the highest point on Earth. The attempt also set another world record for the highest number of successful climbers in a single expedition; the team strength of nine members broke the record set earlier by an American expedition of six members. Later, he also scaled the Siniolchu peak.

Sonam Gyatso

After two successful expeditions and before his second failed attempt on Everest, the Government of India awarded Gaytso the honor of the Padma Shri in 1962. The government followed it up with the higher award of the Padma Bhushan in January 1965, four months before his successful Everest climb in May. The Government of Sikkim honored him with one of their highest civilian awards, the Pema Dorji Decoration. He received the Arjuna Award from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the second highest Indian sports award in the same year. He also received the Gold Medal from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), in 1960 after his first attempt on Everest. The Old Tibet Road in Gangtok has since been renamed as Sonam Gyatso Marg in his honor.

Gyatso was married to Kunzang Choden and the couple had five children. Gyatso was also the founder principal of Sonam Gyatso Mountaineering Institute (SGMI) at Rathong, Sikkim. He died on 22 April 1968 at a hospital in New Delhi, at the age of 45, succumbing to frost bite suffered during one of his trials.

Ajeet Bajaj

Ajeet Bajaj is the first Indian to have completed the Polar Trilogy comprising skiing to the North Pole, South Pole and across the Greenland Icecap.

Ajeet Bajaj, an adventurer and explorer, was born on 17 September 1965 in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. He completed his schooling at Lawrence School, Sanawar. It all began when he was just a twelve year-old boy. While the passion for mountains was there since he was a kid, it was his father who rekindled that passion. At the age of twelve he climbed the 12,000-foot-high Friendship Peak near Kullu in Himachal Pradesh and then at sixteen years old he ascended the Hanuman Tibba, a 20,000-foot-high peak. He graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.

Just after he finished his college education, he took mountains very seriously. And, not only mountains, he soon became hooked to kayaking and whitewater rafting as well. Soon the passion turned into a hobby and from there a profession, who, apart from being a mountaineer, also represented India in whitewater rafting in international events in his youth.

Bajaj won a bronze medal in the national games for kayaking. He has received a silver and two bronze medals in international rafting competitions in Switzerland and Siberia, Russia. He has captained an international team for world white water championships in Turkey. Bajaj qualified as a climbing instructor at the French National School of Alpinism and Skiing and has experience in a host of other adventure sports including skiing, rock climbing, snorkeling, sea kayaking, scuba diving, bungee jumping and canyoning.

In June 2006, Ajeet became the first Indian to have skiied to the North Pole. In 2007, Ajeet proudly unfurled the Indian flag at the Geographical South Pole on January 26, the Indian Republic Day. In May 2011, Ajeet skiied from the west to the east coast of Greenland, skiing 550 kms over 20 days, with ambient temperatures touching (-) 23 degrees Celsius, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat.

Joining him in these adventurous and often treacherous seven summits is his daughter, Deeya, who is currently pursuing her higher studies in the United States. Deeya’s tale, just like her father, is amazing. Deeya graduated in Environmental Science, and trained at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) in Uttarkashi before she undertook the 20-day-long Trans Greenland Skiing Expedition when she was 14. In her teens, Deeya accompanied her father in completing the polar trilogy. Bajaj along with his daughter Deeya climbed Mount Everest on 16 May 2018. They were the first Indian father daughter team to do so.

They climbed Denali, the last of their Seven Summits on 05 June 2022, becoming the first Asian father-daughter duo to climb the Seven Summits. The father-daughter duo, so far, has summited Mount Everest in Asia, Mount Aconcagua in South America, Mount Denali in North America, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Mount Vinson in Antarctica, and Mount Kosciuszko in Australia. They have completed the Explorer's Grand Slam (an adventurer goal to reach the North Pole and South Pole, as well as climb the Seven Summits).

Ajeet Bajaj and his daughter, Deeya summitted Mount Denali on June 5, 2022

He is the founder and Managing Director of Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., a National Tourism Award winning organization promoting innovative and sustainable adventure travel since 1990. He is Co-founder/ Director of, India’s leading online adventure/wildlife company.

He is a member of Global Sustainable Tourism Council. He is the Co-founder of Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) and has served two terms as president, ATOAI. In 2012, Ajeet Bajaj was conferred the Padma Shri by the President of India. Ajeet is a Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and Fellow, Royal Geographical Society.

Asim Mukhopadhyay

Asim Mukhopadhyay was the pioneer in India for organizing high altitude scientific expeditions in the Himalayan region.

Asim Mukhopadhyay, an Indian Mountaineer and teacher, was born on 10 May 1929 in Kolkata, West Bengal. He was the second son of Malin Kumar Mukhopadhyay, a famous advocate in Banksal Court, Kolkata. He was the third of a family of four sisters and six brothers. He passed Matriculation in 1946 from Collins Institute, Lenin Sarani, Kolkata. He completed his Intermediate in 1948 and Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Pali (Middle Indo-Aryan holy language) from Vidyasagar College, Kolkata. He passed Master of Arts in Pali from University of Calcutta in 1952.

Mukhopadhyay was a teacher during 1953–1962 in Calcutta Corporation Primary School. He joined as a teacher of Pali in Ultadanga United High School in January 1963. He continued in the same school up to his retirement in 1992. He was President of Calcutta Corporation Teachers' Union for four years. He was also member of Board of Studies, West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education during 1973–1977.

Mukhopadhyay started feeling of exploring challenges in life after completing his M.A. in 1952. He and his friend Gouranga Banerjee, working as in charge of reading section in Anandabazar Patrika started from Kolkata in October of the same year. They reached to Uttarkashi via Haridwar, Devprayag, Rudraprayag by bus and walked to Badrinath via Joshimath. Mukhopadhyay organised a few expeditions to Himalaya before he completed his mountaineering training in 1962 in spite of being a little heavy and aged for the training at that time. He had to make himself physically fit by losing weight and quitting smoking forever. Famous Tibetan mountaineer Nawang Gombu was the main coach and trainer.

He took part in many expeditions as a climber between 1959 and 1974, and organised a few more in that period and later as an administrator. He was one of the main organisers of the first successful climbing on Nanda Ghunti and Tirsuli peaks by any non-government Indian organisation. Mukhopadhyay was part of following expeditions:

Kalindi Pass Expedition, 1959

Nanda Ghunti Expedition, 1960

Roopkund Expedition, 1963

Tirsuli Expedition, 1966

Kuti Valley Expedition, 1968

Upper Spiti Exploration, 1970

Manirang Expedition, 1974

Kuti Valley Project (2nd phase) 1976

Exploration SPINGPA Valleys 1978

Asim Mukhopadhyay

During his exploration of Himalayas, Mukhopadhyay felt the necessity of organizing scientific expeditions with scholars from different academic fields to conduct studies on the mostly unexplored high altitude region. He called for a convention with scholars of Botany, Zoology, Anthropology, Geology, Biochemistry etc. from different colleges and universities and a few experienced mountaineers in the month of January 1968. It was decided to form an organisation to conduct such scientific explorations. Thus the Council of Himalayan Exploration and Research, brain child of Mukhopadhyay was formed in 1968 with himself as the first chairman. Being first of its kind in India, the organisation was established to promote mountaineering based scientific explorations, publication of research papers etc.

On 2 July 1974, during Manirang Expedition, one of the highest peaks in Himachal Pradesh, Mukhopadhyay fell down from a height of about 200 ft and managed to escape from a sure death by falling into Spiti river as he somehow managed to hang on to a rock at the last moment. However his knee got fractured due to the impact with the stone. This was his last expedition as a climber.

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