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Monday, June 19, 2017

Basic Mountaineering Course at Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling - Part 4

Manu Khandelwal

Rock Craft Training


Sequence Climbing at HMI Base Camp
Sequence Climbing at HMI Base Camp
Our training started with introduction and practice of rope knots. There were total 12 knots that we practiced and used for different purposes. We were given lectures on Principles of Rock Climbing and Climbing holds. And finally, we went to Tenzing Rock for our practice. Tenzing Rock is a place at Darjeeling where one can attempt rock climbing or bouldering on natural rocks. There were 7 phases on which we climbed.

It was the first time, I was doing rock climbing. Turn by turn, we used to climb the rock. Initially, it was a little bit difficult for me to maintain the balance on the rock, but we were made to climb the rock several times and then the activity became a normal task. Rock climbing is not as easy as it looks. When you are in the learning phase of this thrilling activity, there comes a moment when you start climbing the rock and after reaching the midpoint, you don’t find space to put your foot or you don’t find holds which result in losing your grip and you tend to fall and then you shout “I am falling, belay check”. Sometimes you get hurt also. Rock climbing needs a quite good practice.

After reaching the top by climbing, we used to come down by Rappelling. During the first time, I found rappelling more difficult than climbing. I also got slipped, but then came down safely. We practiced several types of rappelling such as shoulder, stomach, long phase, etc. Daily we used to do a lot of practice and then we started doing well.

trainees at Tenzing Rock, Darjeeling
Tenzing Rock, Darjeeling

trainees doing rappelling at tenzing rock, darjeeling
Rock Climbing at Tenzing Rock

trainees doing rock climbing at tenzing rock, darjeeling
Rappelling at Tenzing Rock




me doing Rock Climbing
During the whole course, what I understood is that in mountaineering, there is nothing you could do with muscle strength or power. You just need the presence of mind and right techniques. Like in rock climbing, you just need to identify the route and correct holds and just climb with confidence. In case of rappelling, just lean your body perpendicular to the wall and come down in a rhythm by using your flat foot.

Apart from rock climbing and rappelling, there is one activity that I found the easiest and it was Chimney Climbing. Chimneys are cracks or gaps in cliffs that can accommodate any human body. Chimneys range in width from body-width chimneys, which are just wide enough for you to squeeze into, to wide gaping chimneys that you climb by bridging and stretching your arms and legs on opposite walls. In this, we had to climb up and down in between two cliffs by using some techniques.

trainees doing chimney climbing at tenzing rock, darjeeling
Chimney Climbing



trainees while morning fall in
During Morning Fall in

Rope 7
On one day, we also did long phase rappelling in which we had to cross the overhang. Initially, we all were scared, but it was fun. It was like we were doing a stunt of Spiderman.

I found sequence climbing a tough part because the boulder had no holds and we had to climb that with our snow boots. During my turn, I tried a lot, but I slipped every time. At last, the instructor said : “this is your last chance” and I tried again. During my last time, I was just about to reach the top and I got slipped again. At that time, the chief instructor and instructor, both were there and Sir said: “loose his belay, let him fall”. I was like “no no sir, I am climbing”. The belayer actually left the rope, but I didn’t come down. Though I got some scratches, but somehow I climbed that part without any safety.

Activities we did in Rock Craft Training

Rock Climbing, Rappelling, Chimney Climbing, Belaying, Rope Knots, Rope Coiling, sequence climbing
We also did Sports Climbing, also called as artificial wall climbing at HMI. I found sports climbing easy than natural rock climbing, but both the activities have its own fun.

Trainees doing Sports Climbing or Artificial Wall Climbing at HMI
Sports Climbing or Artificial Wall Climbing at HMI



Trek to Tiger Hill

Before leaving the HMI and moving to Sikkim, we did a 25 km long trek in Darjeeling with a backpack of around 18-20 kg. It was like a test to check everyone’s stamina. The trek was from HMI campus to Tiger Hill and back. The 70% Trek was on the uphill road and rest was on the hilly trail.
Tiger Hill is a hill top and the highest point situated in the vicinity of Darjeeling at an altitude of 7800 ft.

This was the only activity that was known to me. I was quite confident in this one and I also did well. The trek was nothing but due to that much weight which we were carrying on our back, it became difficult. Still, I did not get tired except during the last km and completed the trek in given time.

While trekking to Tiger Hill
While trekking to Tiger Hill


Kanchenjunga and other peaks




Apart from this practical training, we were given lectures and lecture cum demonstration on topics such as

Mountain Manners, Mountain terms, Introduction of Ropes, Himalayas, Mountain Hazards, Principle of Rock Climbing, Tent Pitching, Avalanche, First Aid, Introduction of Ice Axe and Crampon, Acclimatization, Map Reading and Effects of high altitude and Cold and head injuries.

Lectures were quite interesting. I don’t think that I have ever attended any lecture by paying this much attention that I paid during HMI lectures. From school to tuition to college, I used to sleep in each and every classroom. This time, I attended every lecture properly and it helped me during the whole course.

After completing 1st phase of training, Rock Craft, we all were happy because we were going to Sikkim and from that day onwards we did not have to do morning PT and running.

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.

3 comments:

  1. Hey hiii... Waiting for the next part ... very well described 😊 I have done the course n can relate to it ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi. Thanks for appreciating me. Will share next part soon, probably by this weekend. :)

      Delete
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