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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Basic Mountaineering Course at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling - Part 1

Manu Khandelwal

How I came to know about this course?

Hey everyone, apologies for two months gap. This is my first post after this long gap. The post is about my experience of Basic Mountaineering Course in Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling.  As it was a one-month long course, I decided to write it into several parts. Here is the first part.

Before continuing, first I like to elaborate about mountaineering.

What is Mountaineering?

In layman’s language, the sport or activity of climbing mountains.

Ice Craft Training at Rathong Glacier
And to acquire this skill one needs a true passion and a strong heart & will power. So it all started when I went for the Bali pass trek. My then trek leader told me about the courses and institutes in India. Before that, I was aware regarding the same but not that much.  As it was a challenging trek and I completed successfully so I gave a thought about this adventure field called “Mountaineering”. The most important thing that made me urged towards the mountaineering is the snow-capped peaks, the 7000ers, and 8000ers. I discussed with my friends and seniors and finally took a call to do the mountaineering course.

At Bali Pass (4950 Meters)
There are basically two courses that one can do to become a Mountaineer, basic and advance. The basic course is for beginners in which all the basic techniques of mountaineering are taught. After successfully completing basic course, one can opt for advance. In simple terms, the basic course makes you a Mountaineer and advance makes you expert in this domain or basic course teaches you techniques and advance teaches you how to fix or build the system on which those techniques are to be used. Basic course makes you a climber and advance course makes you a lead climber. To do the advance course one must obtain grade A in the basic course. There is also one course that one can opt after successfully completing advance course, i.e., Methods of Instruction course. This course makes one mountaineering instructor.

There are 6 mountaineering institutes in India including

  • Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, West Bengal
  • Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand
  • Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering in Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir
  • Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Manali, Himachal Pradesh 
  • Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering in Gulmarg, Jammu & Kashmir 
  • National Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports in Dirang, Arunachal Pradesh. 

Out of all, HMI Darjeeling is the oldest one founded by legend mountaineer Tenzing Norgay Sherpa (first man to climb Everest) in 1954 and it is considered one of the best mountaineering institutes in the world.

So I completed all the formalities and submitted the form and fees, which was INR 7750. As tragedies follow me everywhere, here also one tragedy happened with me. When I was going to collect the demand draft, which had to be sent to HMI, I got caught by traffic police because of not wearing helmet. Actually, I was getting late and the bank was about to close, I forgot to wear the helmet and police caught me and took my driving license. 😏 After all this, I collected the draft and sent it to HMI. In January, I got the confirmation mail and joining dates were 4 April 2017. The tenure of course was 4th april to 1st may 2017.

Now I was left with 3 months for the preparation. I read blogs about the BMC (Basic Mountaineering Course) and consulted some of my friends. They directed me to start doing exercise immediately including running and gym. As the training was quite hard, they warned me that if you don't do exercise then you will not be able to complete the training. Everyone told me that, HMI conducts one of the toughest mountaineering training in the world. I again gave a thought, did mind makeup and got ready to start doing exercise.

I started running and exercise from the next day, but it lasted for only 3 days. Due to my laziness and procrastination, I couldn't continue it till the joining date. As the joining day was coming nearer, I was getting nervous due to my almost zero preparation. The only things that helped me during the training were my mental fitness and my continuous treks. I was mentally stable and motivated enough to do the training and that is why I successfully completed the training. This is the reason I always say “Mental fitness is more important than physical fitness”.

HMI is situated at Darjeeling in West Bengal state. So I booked a ticket in 3AC coach in a train called North East Express and as usual, I got waiting list. The train was at 6:45 am on 31 March and my seat got cleared just 3 hours before the departure. I successfully boarded the train and started my first journey to Northeast India. As I had never been to this region before, I decided to reach Darjeeling 2 days before the joining day so that I could explore this scenic hill station.

While traveling from Delhi to New Jalpaiguri, West Bengal

Manu Khandelwal / Author

I call myself a traveller more than a travel blogger. Started this blog in 2013. Apart from this I am an Electrical Engineer. Love trekking and doing bike road trips. Like using technology but not addicted to it. A true foodie and love eating burgers.


  1. After reading this..... M very much excited to read the next part... Post it soon....

  2. What an amazing thing you did! Waiting to read more from your adventure!

  3. Bhai...this was so good.
    Abh suspense aur badha diya..!!
    Are u an avid movie watcher..??

  4. I also plan for this.Please guide me.

      Will tell you all the details on the mail.

  5. Hey..just discovered ur blog! I am interested to read more ..keep those posts coming :) i did a himalayan trek this january for 6 days for my anniversary..yet to blog about it...this blogpost of urs where u spoke about the preparation and exercise really brought back memories of my preparation for the trek...i look forward to reading ur whole post and will definitely go for it if i can !

  6. Loved the entire blog! Will be going for the November BMC batch at HMI. Would love to connect with you to get some tricks and tips. Is there a way we could talk maybe?


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