The amount of international tourism is continually increasing. So it comes as no surprise that people who enjoy outdoor activities, such as climbing, hiking and walking, are able to take part in these activities in far flung places throughout the world. Many countries contain areas of outstanding natural beauty that offer exciting challenges and the experience of a life-time for outdoor enthusiasts. With the mighty Himalyan mountains in the north, India is certainly no exception.
Climbing and Mountaineering in India
Climbing and mountaineering have a long tradition in India. The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) regulates foreign expeditions and promotes climbing and mountaineering in India. Last November, 2008, the IMF was addressed by the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, at its golden jubilee celebrations. We recently contacted Colonel Ravinder Nath of the IMF, who has provided us with information about the activities of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and about the climbing scene in India.
Indian Mountaineering Foundation Interview
CheapTents.com: What are the main functions of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF), the apex national body for mountain exploration, has the objective of organizing, supporting and providing a base for expeditions for mountaineering, sport climbing, and trekking at high altitudes.
It seeks to promote, encourage, support and execute schemes for related adventure activities and environmental protection work in the Himalaya. IMF co-ordinates climbing in the Indian Himalaya, organizes national and international conferences, training, environmental-cleaning camps and climbing competitions.
IMF is closely associated with the Ministries of Sports, Home, Defence, Tourism and Environment of the Govt of India.
CheapTents.com: What type of expeditions do the Indian Mountaineering Foundation provide funding for?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: The IMF sends its own mountaineering expeditions and provide funding to Indian mountaineering expeditions which go to the Himalaya. There are 5-7 IMF sponsored mountaineering expeditions and about 80-100 Indian mountaineering expeditions which go to the Himalaya.
CheapTents.com: How popular are mountaineering and climbing in India?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: Mountaineering and climbing are very popular in India and its popularity is increasing among younger generation. More and more people enjoy mountaineering and climbing during their vacations. To boost mountaineering in India , 30 Day Special Casual Leave is permitted by Govt of India for trekking/mountaineering expeditions.
CheapTents.com: Are there any climbing walls in India?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: There are at least 40 climbing walls in India. Mainly, they are in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bikaner, Darjeeling, Uttarkashi, Nainital, Jammu etc. There are four climbing walls in Delhi itself.
CheapTents.com: How does the IMF promote mountaineering and climbing in India?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: IMF organizes annual Sport Climbing Competition in India which is generally held in November. IMF conducts Liaison Officers Course. IMF interact with International Mountaineering Organisation, like UIAA [International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation] and IFSC [International Federation of Sport Climbing].
CheapTents.com: Who are the big names in Indian mountaineering and climbing?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: There are numerous eminent mountaineers in India. However, some of the eminent ones are Maj HPS Ahluwalia – President Indian Mountaineering Foundation, Shri Nawang Gombu, Capt M S Kohli, Col N Kumar, Shri Dorjee Lhatoo, Ms Harshwanti Bisht, Col Balwant Sandhu, Ms Bachendri Pal, Ms Santosh Yadav, Shri Gurdial Singh, Shri Sonam Wangyal, Ms C P Aitwal, Col H S Chauhan.
CheapTents.com: What is the National Sport Climbing Competition and how long has it been running?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: National sport climbing competition is held very year in the month of November. Prior to that we hold zonal competitions. India has been divided into five zones for National Sport Climbing Competition. There is a good participation of 150 boys and girls in this competition. For last few years South Zone has been dominating in this competition.
CheapTents.com: Besides the Himalaya, are there other regions in India where mountaineering / climbing is popular?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: Most of the expeditions go to Himalaya i.e. different States like J & K [Jammu and Kashmir], Himachal, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
CheapTents.com: How does the IMF help foreigners to do mountaineering in India?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: All foreign expeditions are regulated by IMF. On their arrival they are briefed and Liaison Officer is detailed by IMF with them. On termination of expedition they are de-briefed and Liaison Officer gives his Report.
CheapTents.com: Can foreigners subscribe to the IMF publication “The Indian Mountaineer”?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: Foreigners can subscribe the IMF publication Indian Mountaineer. The subscription rate is Rs 2000/-.
CheapTents.com: How does the IMF promote environmental awareness to mountaineers and climbers?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: For the last few years IMF has been sending at least 1-2 Environmental-cum-Cleaning Expeditions which remove non-degradable material from the camps. Apart from this IMF also holds classes/lectures/talks for environmental awareness. Recently IMF published posters on environment awareness and distributed to Indian States.
CheapTents.com: How does mountaineering and climbing affect local people living in mountainous areas of India?
Colonel Ravinder Nath: Mountaineering and climbing make impact on the locals as it provide to some of the locals short term employment as more and more people visit mountains for climbing/mountaineering /tourism.
CheapTents.com: Thank you Colonel Ravinder Nath for answering our questions and providing an insight into climbing in India and the role of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
More information and contact details can be found on our previous post about the Indian Mountaineering Foundation Museum.
Mountaineering and Climbing Interviews
The CheapTents.com blog features many exclusive interviews with climbers, mountaineers and other people who enjoy the outdoors. If you enjoyed this interview you might like to read our interview with Steve Long, Chief Officer for the Mountain Leader Training Association, Judith Safford, Director of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), Pro Ski-Mountaineer / Climber Alison Gannet or Pro Explorer and Adventurer Mikael Strandberg.
And if you’re inspired to do some mountaineering or climbing, you can visit CheapTents.com for your outdoor gear!