Category Archives: Trekking

India to organize another civilian trek to Siachen Glacier in October

India has finalised plans for another civilian trekking expedition to Siachen this October, in a clear reiteration to Pakistan that the forbidding glacial heights are fully under Indian control and remain “non-negotiable” till it accepts Indian conditions.

The first edition of this civilian trek to the Siachen-Saltoro Ridge region last year had Pakistan frothing at the mouth, holding as it did that opening the “disputed territory” for tourism would lead to “serious consequences” and “vitiate the atmosphere for the ongoing peace process”.

But India had cocked a snook at Pakistan by going ahead with the trek — even though there were some last-minute organisational hiccups — to reinforce its stand that not an inch on Siachen would be yielded till Pakistan accepts iron-clad “authentication” of the 110-km Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), both on the map and on the ground, which separates the two armies in the glacial region.

Indian troops, after all, hold “almost all dominating heights” on Saltoro Ridge, with Pakistani troops being nowhere near the 72-km-long Siachen Glacier. Throwing open the Siachen heights to adventure enthusiasts and mountaineers serves to effectively demolish all Pakistani claims to the contrary.

Defence ministry sources said the Army Adventure Cell would organise the trek to the world’s highest, coldest and costliest battlefield, which no longer witnesses the daily artillery duels after the November 2003 ceasefire, from October 1 to 21 this year. The plan is to take around 40 people, including Army experts, defence scientists, NCC and military school cadets and “civilian volunteers”, on the “unique adventure activity”.

The group will first acclimatise and train at Leh for a week or so before heading for the Siachen base camp for further training on the use of glacial equipment. The actual week-long trek along the Northern Glacier will begin thereafter, with the group transversing the frozen wasteland to a forward post situated over 16,000 feet.

The government, on its part, is also actively encouraging mountaineering expeditions to the region. An Indo-French team, for instance, had climbed the Mamostong Kangri peak, located about 30 km east of the snout of Siachen Glacier, last year.

Incidentally, it was Pakistan’s grant of a permit to a Japanese expedition in 1984 to climb the Rimo Peak, located east of Siachen and overlooking Aksai Chin, in the hope of laying a legal claim to the area, which had acted as the final provocation for India to airlift troops to the region. Indian troops had then swiftly occupied the Saltoro Ridge heights, ranging from 16,000 feet to 22,000 feet, against daunting odds under “Operation Meghdhoot” in April 1984, beating Pakistani troops from doing the same by just a whisker.

Though both India and Pakistan have accepted the need to demilitarise the glacial heights right since 1989, the bone of contention in the protracted negotiations has been the “authentication” of the AGPL beyond the NJ-9842 grid reference point — where the well-delineated Line of Control simply stopped dead in the 1972 Simla Pact — right till the Karakoram Pass.India wants the AGPL to be “authenticated” first as an international safeguard before any troop disengagement, withdrawal and the final demilitarisation of the glacier.

From the Siachen Glacier – as a tourist

The Indian Army is working on transforming battlefield Siachen into a tourist destination. In an attempt to kickstart this, the first group of civilian trekkers left for the world’s highest battlefield a week ago. CNN-IBN’s Rasika Tyagi was among the group – the first woman journalist to trek up Siachen.


Leh: It’s the start of a historic and scary journey. Historic because for the first time, civilians are being allowed up to the Siachen glacier and scary because I have to keep up with them at unimaginable altitudes and temperatures


Trying to get up to a whopping 15,000 ft is a motley crew- the oldest person in our group is 55, the youngest only 17.


The Karakorams are the most barren mountains I have ever seen. Just brown earth and snow. I take a deep breath – we are here to scale these mighty mountains. .


But before we go uphill we are told to lie flat for a whole day in Leh so we can acclimatise to the altitude and the thin air. My BP is tested as is my SPO which tells the doctors how much oxygen is in my body.


On Day 2 in Leh, we are told about the high altitude diseases. The list is nearly as long as the glacier itself. In addition there are chill burns, frost bite, pulmonary edema, hypothermia, cerebral edema. Never knew there were so many ways to die!


Day 3 in Leh and finally we are allowed to move around. They are taking us for a one-kilometre walk. That might not sound like much but when you consider the fact that the oxygen in the air here is just 13 per cent while it is 21 per cent at sea level, the task becomes a little more daunting.


These walks will prepare us for the 120-kilometre long trek from the base camp of the Siachen glacier.


On the first day we will walk 12 kilometres to camp 1. Day two – 14 kilometers from camp 1 to camp 2. This is the hardest leg of the trek because of crevasses and thin ice.


Day three sees us trekking 16 kilometers between camp 2 and 3 and on Day 4, 18 km from camp 3 to our finish point camp 4 at 15,000 ft.


Doctors tell us the night temperatures on the glacier will drop to under minus 25 degrees and I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed – that I will return with all my fingers and toes intact.