The Siachen Glacier is one of the most unforgiving places in the Himalayas, not only because of its climatic extremities, but also due to the political conflict that has been plaguing the area since 1984.In the last 30 years, more than 800 soldiers of the Indian Army have sacrificed their lives at Siachen due to hostile terrain conditions and enemy firing. Soldiers camped at the glacier often suffer from trauma owing to temperatures falling well below -60 and for lack of adequate oxygen.
But to be able to visit such a place and actually experience even a fraction of the trials and tribulations that the Indian soldiers face issure to be a big draw for climbing enthusiasts and adventure junkies; keeping this in mind, the Indian Army is conducting a 13-day trekking expedition to the Siachen glacier for civilians between Septemberto Octoberthis year. The route for said expedition is to be from the Siachen Base Camp to Kumar FLB and back, spanning a distance of 60 kilometresat altitudes ranging between 12,000 and 16,000 feet.While the actual trek is to span 13 days, the entire program is to last for one month, including acclimatisation to the environment and low oxygen levels, medical check-ups, training and the trek itself.
Earlier the program would limit candidate intake to the defence forces, military institutions, media and other enthusiasts recommended by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. This year the program plans to take in more than 40 participants from all walks of life; those interested will have to send a signed application to the following address by July 20, 2016:
HQ Northern Command (Training Branch)
Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir
The form for participation can be found here.
Siachen, in Balti language stands for ‘Sia’, which is a species of rose that grows in the region and ‘Chen’, which means “in abundance”. However, it is more popularly known as the world’s highest and coldest battlefield. The Siachen glacier is a controversial area that Pakistan tried to establish as theirs, prompting the Indian Government to launch Operation Meghdoot in 1984.Since then, both sides have been engaged in battle though the guns fell silent after a ceasefire agreement in 2003. India has been organising the trek annually since 2007 to reaffirm its claim on the region.
Aspiring participants should fit the required medical requisites for high altitude treks under extreme conditions and must hold a medical certificate declaring so.