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Arjun Kumar Thapa : The Only Indian To Climb Everest, Serve At Siachen & Ascend The South Pole


New Delhi : In May, an Indian Army Everest expedition team successfully scaled the world's highest peak, a bold feat of grit and perseverance considering how last year's Nepal earthquake that had damaged traditional routes. The 2015 Nepal earthquake had made the Army Everest team curtail their journey midway - they again set off to summit the peak in March this year.  Two 15 member teams, led by Lt Col Jamwal and Major Mirza Zahid Baig along with Nb Sub Unnikannan APV reached the peak on May 19 and 20.

Among the braves who scaled Everest was Arjun Kumar Thapa, the only Indian to have reached Mount Everest, the South Pole, and two tours of duty at Siachen glacier. The 34-year-old Gorkha regiment Havaldar reached Antarctica's South Pole with an 8 member army team in 2011. Thapa told the Indian Express: “Even though both are glaciers, the two challenges are totally different. The journey to South Pole is on a flatter terrain, with gradual slope and there is no problem of oxygen. The climb to the peak of Everest has more obstacles, particularly the icefalls like the Khumbu icefall.”

Endurance forged at Siachen, 2 years at the Siachen Battle School (2013-15), and at the Southern Glacier (2006-08) helped him in his ascent of the South Pole and Mount Everest. His 2012 expedition saw his team open the Bhim to Shiyagra Complex route at Siachen Glacier. “You get used to living at a glacier and it also toughens you mentally for any hardship. There can be no better preparation than that,” says Thapa, proudly wearing the Everest badge on the left pocket of his army uniform.

What's Next?

The North Pole obviously. “I want to be the first Indian man to complete The Three Poles Challenge.”  Temperatures touch a minimum of minus 42 degrees in the night, to a maximum of minus 25 degrees during the day. Indian soldiers control almost all the dominating heights, ranging from 16,000 to 22,000 feet, in the Siachen Glacier-Saltoro Ridge region, and around 900 Indian soldiers have been killed here. Soldiers have been for almost three decades now continuously manning impossible posts at heights of over 20,000 feet, climbing up and down the receding glacier on foot and landing choppers at altitudes they were not even designed to fly.






- Inputs from Agencies


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